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Posted: Mar 06 2017 at 8:59am By Administrator
Co-op City NCNW's 2017 Annual Black History Youth Celebration
The National Council of Negro Women, Inc., Co-op City Section, and the Riverbay Fund, co-sponsored the 16th Annual Black History Youth Celebration on Saturday, February 25, 2017 in the Co-op City Dreiser Community Center, Auditorium B, from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
The theme for this year's Black History celebration was "The African American Journey; from Slavery to Black Lives Matter."
Camille Worrell, Co-op City NCNW's First Vice President and Michelle Sajous, Riverbay's Director of Community Relations, welcomed a full auditorium of participants and guests. Ms. Worrell first gave the audience a flavor of the program by reciting "Wear the Mask" by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the famous poet.
From then on, the program was carried by Rev. Lillian Holloway-Mills, who has been the NCNW's superb Mistress of Ceremonies for several years.
She first introduced the Coop City Renaissance Youth Center Combined Chorus which opened the program with "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and "The Star Spangled Banner" and closed with "I Remember You" by Bervin Harris.
Newly elected State Senator Jamaal Bailey was greeted heartily as he praised the talents of the youth in the community. Since he grew up in the Northeast Bronx and is rearing his two daughters here, in Co-op City, he understands the importance of community support for the positive endeavors of all youth.
Next, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams M.S. 180 showed what a "powerhouse" of talent they are. Three different talented teams "strutted their stuff." First the Super Star Steppers, an outstanding step team of at least 30 members, showed their coordinated stepping and brought down the house.
Then, The Dream Team, a modern dance group that is so talented they are on their way to perform with Alvin Ailey, I'm sure. Finally, the Elite Soldiers of Righteousness, wearing gloves with green luminescent lights on the finger tips performed their unique step routine and thrilled everyone.
Then Robin Miller, a retired art teacher and member of the National Council Of Negro Women (NCNW) Co-op City Section, did a video display of her painted quilts and other designs that exemplified this year's theme, "The African American Journey from Slavery to Black Lives Matter." She included much of her artwork that is included in her published art books. There was also a large display of artwork from some of her elementary school students on tables in the room.
New to Co-op City is the Renaissance Youth Center, Dancers and Band at Coop City. The dancers did a soulful performance to "No One" by Alicia Keys and then the band, after only five weeks of study, had us all snapping our fingers.
A different type of beautiful dancing was performed by the Next Level of Praise Youth Ministry from Co-op City's Church of The New Vision. Their very spiritual praise dance was so graceful and beautifully uplifting.
Some of our youth excelled with spoken word performances. Brittni and Mychaela Worrell recited the poem "Booker T. and W.E.B." Then Matthew Miller combined his spoken word presentation with a very dramatic karate and kung fu demonstration. Excitement rippled through the room with this very unique performance.
Anthony Mitchell compared two types of communication by first reciting the poem "Democracy" by Langston Hughes and then rapping "Day by Day," his own creation on a similar topic. An international flavor was added to our program by Akua Boatemaa who performed "Ga," several Ghanaian traditional dance selections. This was our first performance that depicted the earliest part of our African American Journey theme.
Next, the Co-op City Baptist Church Community Praise Dancers' performance of "We Shall Overcome" was simply moving and expressive.
Mind-Builders Creative Art Center has been in the Coop City community for decades and they always send stunning performers to our annual youth program.
This year, there were two groups, one a modern dance group and the second was an African dance group with drumming. These two performances had the audience on its feet cheering them on.
The Clear Vision Gospel Recording Group ended the performances with very current pop music from the Black Lives Matter era of our theme this year. Our exceptional Mistress of Ceremonies, Rev. Lillian Holloway-Mills, kept the very full program moving forward. In between acts, she had Questions & Answers for the audience on the theme of Black History.
Young people won gift cards from Staples, McDonald's and other Co-op City neighborhood merchants that had been donated by NCNW members. Everyone was encouraged to look closely at the exhibits around the room on such topics as African American inventors, as well as other aspects of the history of the African diaspora in the USA to answer some of the questions.
Refreshments were served to all the guests and the afternoon closed with remarks from the NCNW Co-op City Section President, Lori Melton, who has been the Black History Month chairperson since the program began 16 years ago. Akeisha Neely, the National Council Of Negro Women Co-op City Section's Third Vice President and co-chairperson of the Black History Month program, presented awards to our talented young performers.
It was such a delightful afternoon to share the beautiful spirits of the youth in our community when so often only the occasional negative behavior is highlighted.
By Joyce Howard
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