Serranos Co-Host 2015 Black History Month Celebration

Serrano Black History Month_Program

Tuesday morning Congressman Jose Serrano and his son, State Senator Jose M. Serrano held their annual Black History Month event celebrating the contributions of local leaders. This year, they honored Kenneth Knuckles, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone; Mary Coleman, Stella and Charles Guttman Community College; Margarette Purvis, Food Bank of New York; and David Shuffler, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.

The celebration got off to a rollicking start with a spirited rendition of the Negro National Anthem by Imani Scott. Rev. Helen Wingate, Greater Faith Baptist Church, favored the audience with a stirring invocation.

In his remarks, Rep. Serrano pointed out that the historic Voting Rights Act which secured African American voting rights did not do so to the exclusion of others. He acknowledged that election of Herman Badillo to Congress and his forty-one years in elected office were made possible by the Voting Rights Act.

As further evidence of a black-Puerto Rican coalition, Serrano spoke a poster he had designed that depicted him, President Barack Obama and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “Without Obama there would be no Sonia Sotomayor in the Supreme Court,” he said.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson and Council Member Vanessa Gibson offered greetings. State Senator Gustavo Rivera , frosh legislator Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, 79th AD district leader Cynthia Cox, 80th AD state committeeman Joe McManus and former 84th AD state committeewoman Nellie McKay numbered among attendees.

The Food Bank of New York official accepting for Margarette Purvis stunned the audience when she stated that one-fifth of Bronx residents are “food insecure” and cannot meet their basic food needs.

Kenneth Knuckles

Kenneth Knuckles

Ken Knuckles, who served as deputy Bronx Borough President to Fernando Ferrer before going to work in the Dinkins administration, remarked that he takes “all honors as a sign of public trust” and drew laughter when he vowed not to do anything that would cause the Serranos to take back their awards.

Mary Coleman noted that she played on the Crotona Park tennis courts when grass grew there before Borough President Ferrer invested in new tennis courts. Coleman said she lives her life by the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson.


In his brief remarks, the last honoree David Shuffler remembered his colleague Morgan Powell for his commitment to the Bronx River and the Bronx. Powell, a Bronx history buff and environmentalist, died expectedly last year.  Shuffler’s organization Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice is an organization dedicated to environmental justice and restoration of the Bronx River.

Mary Coleman

Mary Coleman

David Shuffler

David Shuffler








Senator Serrano closed the event by thanking the audience for their support saying, “without you we couldn’t do what we do for the community.”

Congressman Serrano praised the people who get up every day to go to work, to take their children to school, to make this society as black history makers, too.

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