National Luminaries, Local Leaders and Yonkers Community Turn Out in Force to Celebrate
The City of Yonkers hosted “Yonkers MBK Celebrates Year One, The Movement Continues” on September 26, 2017 in collaboration with Yonkers Public Schools and The Nepperhan Community Center. More than 300 Yonkers students, parents, city and state leaders and sports figures came together at Lincoln High School to celebrate the movement’s remarkable first year in an evening full of song and spirit. Since Yonkers joined the national My Brother’s Keeper movement a year ago, dozens of dynamic programs and events have been created in Yonkers schools and around the community.
Highlights of Speakers’ Remarks:
- Reflecting on Yonkers’ acceptance of the national MBK Community Challenge on September 21, 2016, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano exclaimed that Yonkers loves a challenge and that he is proud our city’s MBK has met and exceeded expectations.
- “We are proud that the hopes and plans of so many MBK visionaries has become a reality in our great city,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edwin M. Quezada. “We celebrate and honor our magnificent young men of color and all of those who worked so hard to support them this year. They are the promise of our future,” he said.
- Yonkers Board of Education President Rev. Steve Lopez said that “our uplifting MBK movement embodies the aspirations of so many of the young men whom we, as Trustees, steadfastly support during their years in our schools.”
- Rev. Dr. Jim Bostic, Executive Director of the Nepperhan Community Center and Yonkers MBK Co-Chair with Dr. Quezada, detailed many of Yonkers MBK’s extraordinary accomplishments. He energized students with the refrain, “Good, better best, never let it rest until you make your good better and your better best.”
- The evening’s keynote speaker, Michael A. Blake, New York State Assembly Member from the Bronx (79th District), was one of several dignitaries who were instrumental in making MBK a national reality and a force in New York State. Assembly Member Blake told Yonkers’ young men that their best times lie ahead. “Your time has not run out,” he said. “When you’re on this journey called purpose, nothing can be denied.” Of his own life journey, he said, “I refuse to allow the fabric of history’s pain to be so interwoven with my soul that it would cover up my promise. MBK is about turning pain into progress.”
- Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins passionately encouraged students to embrace former President Obama’s vision for MBK and to move that vision forward.
- New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Dr. Betty A. Rosa, a dedicated advocate for MBK, shared her passion for the movement and explained, “MBK is a manifesto for social justice.”
- Regent Dr. Lester W. Young, Jr., Chair of the New York Blue Ribbon Committee to Improve Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color, which was pivotal in the creation of the statewide MBK said, “The work in Yonkers is a model for our country.” He told Yonkers’ young men, “Looking at you, I know our future is secure.”
- Regent Judith Johnson, also instrumental in the creation of New York State’s statewide MBK program and an ongoing source of support, told students, “You are the heirs of this great experiment called democracy. Keep marching with us!”
- Former San Antonio Spurs player and NBA Cares Ambassador Felipe Lopez applauded the long-term partnership between My Brother’s Keeper and the National Basketball Association, which partnered to recruit tens of thousands of mentors in the last five years. Mr. Lopez emphasized the importance of mentoring, economic empowerment and community conversations. Basketball, he said, is a way to build bridges between people.
- Shawn Dove, CEO of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement said Yonkers’ focused efforts on behalf of boys and young men of color has inspired CBMA to elevate Yonkers to national prominence in the coming year.
Three high school seniors served as the Masters of Ceremony with Dr. Quezada for the evening. Lincoln High School’s Micheal Boahene, Yonkers Middle High School’s Nathan Collins and Gorton High School’s Heriberto “Eddie” Ortiz were poised and charismatic hosts. Like other MBK brothers from Yonkers’ eight high schools who attended the event, the three MCs met for the first time at the celebration, illustrating the movement’s unifying power.
“My Brother’s Keeper is about coming together and supporting each other,” Micheal said. “If you need me, I’m there for you.”
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