U.S. Attorney’s Office celebrates African-American heritage
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District on Thursday presented its 2013 African-American Heritage Program. Focusing on the civil rights movement in 1963, the office offered a multimedia presentation complete with video, fine art and musical selections.
United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch served as the mistress of ceremonies. The all-male ensemble MANIFEST provided a harmonious rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem.
The program committee compiled a video presentation of historic events in 1963. Images of the iconic March on Washington, clips of the infamous Alabama governor Bull Connor, and footage from the bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four young girls flashed across the screen. After the video, Linda McNeill, a paralegal specialist, preformed a dramatic reading reflection of the death of those young girls.
To lighten up the festivities, the award for the EDNY Top Chef-Bake Off was presented. A delicious coconut cake won the delectable award. Federal Judges Joan Azrack, Margo Brodie and John Gleeson volunteered their taste buds as the judges for the contest.
Harlem fine artist LeRone Wilson introduced his work that was exhibited in the office’s library. Using ancient Egyptian techniques, Wilson explained how he heats, melts and manipulates beeswax to create sculptural paintings.
“Never give up on yourself,” Wilson advised the audience. “You can make it happen. Just believe in yourself first.”
The program’s honoree was V. Elaine Gross, president of the non-profit organization ERASE Racism NY. Based in Long Island, the organization works to address institutional and structural racism, especially in the area of housing and community development.
Gross gave a telling tale of being stopped by a white police officer as her family drove from New York to visit family in the South in 1963. “No matter where you lived you, could not escape what was going on in the South,” Gross said.
Pointing out that things have changed from 1963 to 2013, Gross acknowledged and recognized the role of the United States Justice Department in securing civil rights, but cautioned that “there are still structural impediments” to those rights.
“The time for waiting has long past,” Gross concluded. “The time for action is now.”
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