Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson’s Black History Month Event

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson’s Black History Month Event

By Robert Press

Having attended former Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s Black History Month events, I really didn’t know what to expect from new Bronx BP Vanessa Gibson who was a guest at past BP Diaz Jr., Black History Month events. This year was different, because it was no longer a Black History Month event held by a Hispanic male borough president, but it was a Black History Month event that was being held by a Black Woman Bronx Borough President. That in itself was history enough, but more was to follow.

Once the event got started you could feel the difference in this event compared to past events. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer spoke first about how he helped get the keynote speaker selected as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, which includes most of New York City and Westchester County.  Damien Williams the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District the Keynote Speaker, told the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, an all black U.S. Army group of soldiers in World War One. Williams said they faced racism as they were  given broom sticks in place of rifles to learn how to be soldiers, and they could not fight alongside the white soldiers, but had to fight with French soldiers who gave them rifles and trained them for the war, to be one of the best fighting brigades in WWI. Williams would go on to say that James C. Thomas who fought as a member of the Harlem Hellcats would become the first black lawyer, and one hundred years later that he, Williams would become the first Black U.S. Attorney.

Mayor Eric Adams was next to speak, telling of how he grew up on Gates Avenue in Brooklyn with his mother who was saving up from her work to finally be able to buy a home for the six members of his family in Queens. That however, he said led to his mother being fired from her job, and the struggles for his family continued as he grew up. He then wanted to know how the city got to where it is now, what happened to our children he said. Guns are more important than education, and why do we attack each other? He continued saying that he is not the enemy, but someone who is trying to help and stop the violence. Mayor Adams concluded by saying that he owes his mayorship to the Bronx, and he will be there for the Bronx.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson stood next to a picture of her mentor former Assemblywoman/Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene as she spoke. You could hear BP Gibson’s voice wanting to have her mentor with her to see this moment, but her words were “I know Aurelia is looking down on me right now to celebrate this moment”. Gibson then praised Mayor Adams for all he has done in helping with the Twin Parks fire aftermath, and thanked him for being the leader that will bring the Bronx and New York City forward. She then introduced Deputy Bronx Borough President Janet Peguero, and said the Bronx is now led by two women of color.

The honorees for the evening were Community Activist Patricia Banks Edmiston, Hugh Campbell Esq., Dr. Hazel N. Dukes President NAACP, Sophia Reid R.A.I.N. Total Care Inc.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell is with Bishop Peggy Smalls (who gave the invocation), and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.

Bronx Borough President Gibson stands next to a portrait of her mentor Aurelia Greene as Bronx DA Darcel Clark speaks.

(L -R) Bronx DA Darcel Clark, Bronx BP Vanesa Gibson, Keynote Speaker U.S. Attorney Damien Williams, U.S. Senator Chuck Schummer, and NAACP President Dr. Hazel N. Dukes.

Mayor Eric Adams with BP Gibson.

Bronx elected officials and judges with BP Gibson.

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