Black History Month Celebration Draws Large Crowd

The 12th Annual Westchester Association of Black School Educators (WABSE) Black History Month event last Saturday was a huge success, drawing almost 600 people and commemorating the 70th anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. BOE Supreme Court decision. The event gave students an opportunity to explore and express the struggle for school integration that continues today. 

The Westchester Alliance of Black School Educators (WABSE) partners with the CSDNR to activate the New Rochelle Black History Month Committee (NRBHMC) which produces a themed celebration each year.

The community event, hosted by New Rochelle High School, was sponsored by a consortium of community-based organizations and featured the WABSE Spoken Word and Art Show, interactive activities, and exhibits about New Rochelle history, museum and planetarium visits, and plenty of shopping and food from local Black vendors.

An evening session featured dance, drama, song, and spoken word, with musical interludes by DJ Smithyboy. Student performers were the Barnard Historians, Jefferson Tiger Tones, Columbus Players, ALMS Queens Collective, IEYMS Dance Club, NRHS PAVE Dance, Renaissance Ensemble, Jazz Band, and the NR Youth Bureau Trifecta and Elite Steppers. 

New Rochelle High School students Lydia Dawit, Delaney Jacobs, and Maya J. Opoku sang an arrangement of the Black National Anthem- Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing. Melvina Cann, Julia Polycarpe, and Harmony Hopwood, Westchester County Poet Laureate, performed original spoken word pieces.

Also honored were community member, author, and educational leader Dr. LaRuth Gray and high achieving New Rochelle students Cameron Mack and Aric Senhouse from Isaac E. Young Middle School; Nathan Hoffman and Olivia Solomon from Albert Leonard Middle School; and NRHS’s Samantha Benjamin and Rashaun Grey.

Volunteers from the Black Culture Club, Higher Aims, Young Achievers, My Brother’s Keeper, and My Sister Keep Her were on hand to help out, and nearly $2,000 was raised for scholarships to support college-bound students.

“The joy in the air and on the faces of the students, parents, volunteers and attendees is always the most gratifying part,” said WABSE President Candace Pinn, who acknowledged “an army of both adult and high school student volunteers helped to create the welcoming environment and celebratory spirit that we all enjoy.”