New York Rep. Charles Rangel was one of three esteemed guests honored Saturday, Feb. 27 at MALIK Fraternity’s second annual Black History Month Gala.
The fundraiser event, which was held at the Villa Baronne Manor in Bronx, N.Y., drew nearly 200 attendees, including Ambassador Attallah Shabazz and previous honorees Assemblyman Carl Heastie and David Banks, founder of the Eagle Academy.
In addition to rewarding Rangel, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1971, MALIK Fraternity recognized renowned journalist and author Denene Millner (“Think Like a Man, Act Like a Lady”) and Black Male Achievement CEO Shawn Dove.
Continuing a tradition the organization started last year, Rangel, Millner and Dove each received handmade African staffs, a plaque and commemorative African names. The “Lion of Lenox” was bestowed with the African name “Induna Sithembile,” meaning “an honorable and great leader whom we trust.”
“[MALIK] inviting me as one of their honorees is deeply, deeply appreciated,” Rangel told the AmNews prior to delivering his acceptance speech. “But it’s more than that. It’s the work they do with young people. I always believe that anytime I’m being honored, they’re honoring the community that I serve. I don’t have the luxury of people believing that it’s me. It’s my office, it’s my electives, it’s the people that give me the opportunity to serve.”
Rangel invoked applause during his speech as he emphasized the importance of mentorship. His International Affairs program provides college students with professional development support, scholarship aid and internships on Capitol Hill and at U.S. Embassies.
“They told me as a kid on Lenox Avenue that I had more self-esteem than I needed,” Rangel said. “But self-esteem without a high school diploma got my behind in the Army. Coming out, [I realized] that there was an obligation to those who supported me, to dedicate my life to young people for them to have the opportunity.”
Millner is the founder of the Black parenting blog MyBrownBaby.com. She recently inked a deal to launch her own series of children’s books aimed at Black children.
Dove’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement has an expanding national network comprised of 4,000 leaders representing organizations committed to improving the life outcomes of Black men and boys across the country.
According to MALIK President Hugh Lawrence Jr., “All of the honorees exemplify the mission of the MALIK Foundation, which is educating our youth one mind at a time.”
“This year we had incredible guests who have been warriors in our communities, mentoring and showing our youth the path for success,” he said. “The world needs to know of our achievements and respect our contributions to society. We want the youth to be proud of these accomplishments through cultural awareness. The gala crystallizes all of these elements.”
Proceeds from this year’s event go directly to the Chionesu Bakari program and the MALIK Fraternity Foundation.