Last week an incredible Black History Month event took place at SCAN-Harbor’s Johnson Community Center in East Harlem. Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs and SCAN-Harbor, the largest youth services organization in Harlem, East Harlem, and the South Bronx, co-hosted the event to celebrate African American Firsts. The event honored the many civic leaders in New York who have broken barriers to become the first African American to reach their esteemed position.
NYC Mayor Eric Adams was in attendance to recognize Assemblyman Eddie Gibbs’s second term, and to pay respects to those who have broken barriers to become the first African American to reach their esteemed position. He also received recognition for his service to East Harlem and Harlem.
New York State Lieutenant governor Antonio Delgado was also on hand to swear-in Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs for his second term in the NY State Assembly.
Before a very impressive group of civic leaders was honored, SCAN-Harbor’s Junior Ensemble performed an energetic and moving rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.”
The evening also featured “Lift Every Voice” as sung by R&B Singer Jeff Redd, and New York State Poet Laureate, 9-year-old Kayden Herns performed his poem “In My Mind.”
The event honored the following New York civic leaders for their respective firsts:
New York State Governor David Paterson was in attendance to receive his recognition as the first African American Governor of New York.
Governor David Paterson also received a recognition given to his Father posthumously as the first African American Secretary of State of New York, which was presented to him by SCAN-Harbor Executive Director Lew Zuchman, Assemblyman Eddie Gibbs, and New York State Senator José M. Serrano. Gov. Paterson was particularly touched by this recognition and said, “I have never received an honor on behalf of my Father, so I am very grateful- I don’t think I will ever forget this.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was in attendance to receive his recognition as the first African-American to be elected New York County District Attorney.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James was in attendance to receive her recognition as the first African-American woman to be elected to statewide office, and the first African American to serve as Attorney General.
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams was in attendance to receive her recognition as the first African-American City Council Speaker of New York City.
Deputy Manhattan Borough President Keisha Sutton-James was in attendance to receive 2 recognitions given posthumously: to New York City Mayor David Dinkins as the first African American Mayor of New York City, and for Sutton-James’ Grandfather, Manhattan Borough President (1966-77) Percy Ellis Sutton, who was the first African American to run for Mayor in 1977.
New York State Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs was also recognized or his service to the East Harlem community. New York State Senator Cordell Cleare was in attendance to recognize SCAN-Harbor Executive Director Lew Zuchman for his 60-year record of serving East Harlem / Harlem.
New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell was recognized as the first African American woman to become commissioner of the New York Police Department. Assistant Chief Olufunmilola Obe was on hand to receive this recognition on her behalf.
Throughout the evening, there were performances from Noele Philips, a Cultural Dance Performer, as well as violinist Edward W. Hardy, and the show closed with a performance from Peterwane and the Nate Lucas Allstars Jazz Band
Nearly 200 people attended the event, and the impressive turn-out of elected officials is a sign for all of us as to how important SCAN-Harbor and Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs are to the community.