The Cosmopolitan Review: May 17 - May 23
Gala over here, gala over there, tis the season for galas everywhere. Where better for The Black Institute to hold its eighth annual Justice for All Ball than at the Schomburg Center, where this year, The Black Institute honored the New York Amsterdam News’ very own Elinor Tatum with the Knowledge Award. Also honored were Kevinee Gilmore, Mysonne “The General,” CWA President Gloria Middleton and one of the original “Freedom Riders,” Lew Zuchman.
The event featured a special performance of the award-winning show, “Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical.” The show, which first premiered at the New York Musical Festival in 2017, chronicles the true story of the Freedom Rider activists, who rode buses into the South in protest of segregated bus terminals. Writer, producer, director Stanley Nelson created a potent documentary on the Freedom Riders, 400 activists who in 1961 put their lives on the line in the name of social justice when they got on the bus. It doesn’t matter how the story is portrayed. It is one that never gets old.
Something else that never gets old is the gala hosted by Northside Center for Child Development. As one of the most anticipated events of the year, this year’s gala, Building Brighter Futures, showed it just gets better with time. Waltzing into the Plaza Hotel’s grand ballroom were patrons, friends, supporters and those who stand on the front lines of all that Northside provides—a haven for the despondent with a strong dose of love.
Founders Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, more than 70 years ago, saw the dire need for mental health services and the direct connection self-esteem has on overcoming hardships. The psychological hypothesis explored by the Clarks served as evidence in the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, which ultimately led to the desegregation of all public schools in the United States.
Slowly, brick by brick, child by child, family by family, the Clarks continued to build upon their theory and belief of what makes a child whole and what can heal a troubled mind, and today Northside Center flourishes. Each year, the galas provide funding, strengthening programs that build “bright futures” for some of the city’s forgotten youth. Helping families who are underserved and overwhelmed by the daily problems of living in today’s fast-paced society, Northside steps up to the plate. Currently, more than 4,000 New York City children and their families live a better quality of life because Northside is there for them.
Enrichment programs, early education initiatives, behavioral/mental health services, one-on-one therapeutic sessions and activities especially designed to meet the pace, needs and abilities of children who would otherwise become a negative statistic are only a part of what Northside does. The other side of what they do is they never stop caring and devising new ways to strengthen their core beliefs.
This year’s honorees were Congressman Charles B. Rangel and his wife Alma Rangel and Brian Griffin, executive vice president and CEO for IngenioRx Anthem, Inc. Alma Rangel was unable to attend the event, but her husband of more than 50 years, who was introduced by former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, gave a glowing recognition and tribute to her, telling the audience about how they first met.