By Francisco Camacho |Sports Editor
On February 21 at Bergen Community College, the Office of Multicultural Affairs organized a banquet to close out Black History Month. The event was hosted by Ronald E. McKnight and Aretha Y. Harrison-McMillan, Chairman and Co-Chairwoman of the Black History Month Committee.
The event took place in the Tech Building, where there was live music, food and awards given out to prominent African-American figures of Bergen County.
The event started with a musical performance by Reggie Pittman, Jazz Trumpeter from a 100 Black Men of NY. This is a men’s civic organization and service club with the goal of educating and empowering African-American children and teens. Pittman’s performance featured vocals from Makayla Charles, an eighth grade student from Hackensack, NJ.
The event featured many different speakers from Dr. Michael D. Redmond, the president of BCC, to Jeffrey Carter, the President of the Bergen County NAACP. Even the President of The Black Student Union, Lela Davis, had a moment to speak.
Throughout the evening, many members of Bergen County’s African-American community were recognized for their contributions throughout the years.
The highlight of the night was the Lifetime Achievement award, which was presented to Dr. Ursula Parrish Daniels. Dr. Daniels is a former Administrator for the college who worked as an executive assistant.
She recently retired in August of 2018 after starting at BCC in 1976 as a faculty member. She currently works with the Bergen Community College Coalition for Student Success and she describes her continuous work at Bergen after retirement as “failing retirement.”
She took her time to express her gratitude for the award and also to commend other people who “made it possible for her to be here today.”
She spoke proudly of the award, saying, “It is daunting to be given an award by your peers, it means everything to me because it means people are focused not on me, but on the work we did here together.”
She encouraged everyone to read up on African-American history and wrapped everything up by saying, “No one can tell our story better than we can tell our story.”
Mr. McKnight said that having events like this is essential because they teach African-American students at BCC about their own history and their impact on American History.
“I’m still learning about what African-Americans have done for the United States. I read an article in The Torch written by a young man, it was such a moving article because it talked about not having confidence in his own African-Americanism and so, by learning history and so forth… the more comfortable you become in your own skin,” he said.
He mentioned a list of accomplishments made by African-Americans such as the traffic light and the first open heart surgery.
He said, “We contribute a lot to this country other than sports and entertainment… black history is American history.”
Mrs. Harrison-McMillan echoed the sentiment, “It is very important that we have these events that acknowledge our history so we understand where we have to go and what to do.”
She believes that young people especially need to educate themselves so that everything going on in the African-American Community is not so foreign to them.
She would like for “everyone to stay strong and learn your history no matter where you come from and to learn other people’s history as well.”
This was a night full of learning and understanding and truly showcased the diversity here at BCC.