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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

RIRA Youth & Education Committee Celebrate Roosevelt Island Black History Month At Senior Center - Music, Dance, Poetry, Personal HIstory & Community On Display

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Child, Youth & Education Ad Hoc Committee Co-Chair Adib Mansour reports:

Children, Youth & Education Committee Celebrates Black History Month:

As part of our commitment to the youth and their community, the Children, Youth & Education Committee hosted a celebration of Black History Month at the Senior Center on Monday February 20th in collaboration with the Carter Burden Center, The Disabled Association, the Public Safety Department, and Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC).

Over 65 seniors and their families and friends attended to the event which started with a welcoming speech by Public Safety Deputy Director Kevin Brown who elaborated on his personal understanding of Black History. Deputy Director Brown talked about growing up under the guidance of his grandmother, who taught him to keep his head up and overcome any and all obstacles with steadfastness. He confessed his pride in his children and their successful education, always instilling progress upon them, following a life-long view on life through the teachings of his grandmother.

I spoke about the Children, Youth & Education committee’s vision and goals to promote leadership with the youth of the island and getting them involved with our community.

Lauren Burrows and Jeff Jones entranced the audience with their angelic voices singing “Lift Every Voice And Sing”.

I introduced one of the two leadership program’s stars, Anyah Lamb who read her own personal prose that embodies the meaning of Black History Month to her.

Anyah ended her speech with moving words that commemorate the writings of Maya Angelou, which was a perfect segue introducing Tia Young, who beautifully read Angelou’s “Inauguration Poem” .

Anyah and Tia have both been active in the community through RIRA’s Children, Youth and Education Committee for the last year. No strangers to the Senior Center, they offered an eloquent and animated dance that takes roots in African traditional moves combined with energetic modern interpretations.

After the dance, Mary Coleman

elaborated on the positive role strong African American disabled women imposed on our history, then introduced one of our communities’ own powerful role models, Dolores Green and presented her beautiful flowers.

Miss Green asked me to read a tribute to Martin Luther King who taught us to stand together for equality in this land. Wendy Hersh culminated the first part of the event with an appreciation of Dolores’ positive impact on our community through her 16 years as president of the Senior Center Association and through her diligence in insuring the Seniors always received the care and service they deserve. Mary and Wendy presented Dolores with a special plaque and a framed certificate in honor of her service. Soon after, everyone sang Dolores Happy Birthday as it was her special day.

Before lunch break, the Roosevelt Island Girls Scout of America

read about the consequential importance the African American female “computers” who secured the safe travel and orbit of John Glenn: Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Juliette Coleman.

After a succulent lunch, the crowd was introduced to Roy Eaton who concluded the 4 hours event with a recitation of his life struggles as the first successful African American man in Advertising. He recounts his perseverance and overcoming all the segregation-imposed obstacles to become a well known celebrity in the field.

Many thanks to Lynne Shinozaki for her tireless hard work behind the scene to insure a quality event for the seniors of our island. Also a big thank you to Lisa Fernandez (Director of the Senior Center / Carter Burden), and Hallie Shapiro (Outreach Director of the Senior Center / Carter Burden).

RIRA’s Children, Youth & Education committee is planning numerous leadership programs and community involvement projects. If you, your child, or your family would like to participate in these programs and projects, please feel free to contact committee’s co-chairs Anne Heskel ( or me ( - or call (646) 283-4973).
Mr. Mansour adds:
The recently formed RIRA Children, Youth & Education Committee was delighted to honor the seniors of our island. As part of our Youth Community Service program, a group of 7 young PS/IS 217 4th graders packed “Goodie Bags”

with products donated by gratifying vendors from Roosevelt Island, including: Gristedes, Bread & Butter Deli, and Wholesome Factory, as well as succulent breads by Pain d’Avignon, owned by island residents and distributed at the Plaza Hotel. Gordana Jelic, member of the CY&E committee coordinated the event with the help of the 7 4th graders (Lola, Mila, Milicia, Strahinja, Tadija, Louise, and Nicholas).

The gift bags were donated to the Seniors at the Carter Burden Center to about 50 seniors.