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Queens DA hosts Black History Month celebration event in Jamaica

Black History Month
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz (center) with Black History Month Celebration honorees (l to r) hip hop pioneer Ralph McDaniels, Black Spectrum Theater found Carl Clay, activist Larry “Love” Moore, BlaQue Network founder Aleeia Abraham, QDA staff member Sharon Walker and QDA Assistant District Attorney Allison Wright. (Photo courtesy of Katz’s office)

For more than half a century, the Black Spectrum Theater in Jamaica has been on a mission to stimulate social and cultural consciousness through the production and presentation of message-oriented theatre and films alongside Roy Wilkins Park. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz chose that venue to host her celebratory program in honor of Black History Month on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

The program included live music and dance performances from local artists, special guest remarks from City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and a keynote address by National Action Network founder, Reverend Al Sharpton. Katz honored several notable individuals for exemplifying the “Best of Queens” throughout the evening

Black History Month
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz with Reverend Al Sharpton, NYC Council President Adrienne Adams, NYC Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers and a representative from the office of NYS Senator Leroy Comrie at the QDA Black History Month celebration at the Black Spectrum Theater. (Photo courtesy of Katz’s office)

“Honoring Black History is an important statement every year. We have to celebrate and pay tribute to the often-overlooked contributions of African Americans in our own borough of Queens and across the nation,” Katz said. “This program has been a great opportunity for reflection and celebration with our honorees and featured guests.”

Katz also recognized Mr. Carl Clay, founder and owner of the Black Spectrum Theater, on the auspicious occasion of the theater’s 50th Anniversary. Since 1970, The Black Spectrum Theater has grown into a multifaceted performing arts and media company in southeast Queens that has produced and presented over 150 plays, 30 films and numerous works of music, dance and performance art.

The evening’s honorees included:

  • Ralph McDaniels, hip hop legend and founder of the Video Music Box, was honored for his outstanding achievements in broadcast media and music.
  • Larry “Love” Moore, the community activist, was honored for his long-time advocacy on behalf of southeast Queens.
  • The BlaQue Resource Network and founder Aleeia Abraham were honored for their work in uniting predominantly Black neighborhoods and local businesses in Queens.
  • Allison Wright, Supervising Assistant District Attorney, Major Economic Crimes Bureau, was honored for her more than 20 years of dedicated service.
  • Sharon Walker, Secretary, Felony Trial Bureau II, was honored for her tireless support and 36 years of service at the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
  • Rev. Sharpton discussed the importance of commemorating Black History throughout the nation and urged the audience to support Black elected officials and become individually engaged themselves.
Black History Month
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz with youth activists at the QDA Black History Month celebration at the Black Spectrum Theater. (Photo courtesy of Katz’s office)

“The best way to celebrate Black history is to continue to make some and to use what we have in our hands and use what we have available to us,” Sharpton said. “Every generation before us found a way to give the next generation a better life. I am determined that my children and grandchildren will live a better life than me. Because at the end of the day, you will not be judged by what you said, you will be judged by what you did. So your commitment tonight ought to be that I will make some Black history.”

The evening also included performances by the Devore Dance Company, soloists June Rodgers and Jared Davidson and a powerhouse number from the Queens Alliance Drumline. The evening’s festivities began with an invocation by Dr. Philip Craig of the Springfield Community Church and ended with a benediction by Dr. Maria L. Hubbard of Agape Bethel Community Development Corporation.

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