Boerum Hill

Kids take center stage during civil court’s Black History Month celebration

February 23, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 81st Precinct Explorers, DJ Annie Red (left in red), and Arra Dingle (second from right) stole the show at this year's Kings County Civil Court Black History Month event. Eagle photos by Edward King
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Most Black History Month events that take place in the courts throughout Brooklyn include distinguished speakers, veterans and history lessons, but Friday’s event in the Kings County Civil Court featured kids as a way to show that black excellence isn’t just about what has happened in the past, but that it also includes what’s to come.

The “Children’s Program,” which takes place every year at 141 Livingston St., featured a 9-year-old rapper named DJ Annie Red, a 17-year-old vocalist and a group of kids known as the 81st Precinct Explorers.

“We are honored and privileged each year to do the children’s program,” said Judge Ingrid Joseph, supervising judge of the Kings County Civil Court. “We are graced with talented young people and this is a great opportunity to see what a community can put together. I want to thank Judge Sheares, her staff and the members of the committee who put together this program each year.”

After a brief welcome by Joseph and Justice Robin Sheares, Skye Matthews took over the event as the master of ceremonies and led the audience in the singing of the black national anthem.

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“Ms. Skye is quite the accomplished chess player,” Justice Sheares said. “We had her here last summer for our chess tournament and she beat Judge Gary Marton and one of our court officers. She also got a medal for implementing a chess clinic where she taught kids how to play and regularly participates in tournaments.”

DJ Annie Red is a 9-year-old rapper and author, whose topics are focused on bullying. She read a couple of excerpts from her book “The Bully Stop” which is written in both English and Spanish with the help of her aunt Sylvia Sealy, who illustrated the book.

“I got bullied because of my raspy voice,” DJ Annie Red said. “When I got bullied I told my mom, and oh boy, she didn’t play. If it continues to happen, tell a teacher or an adult. Don’t just handle it by yourself. Hand it with somebody you trust.”

Arra Dingle sang two songs during the event, “Rise Up” by Andra Day and a song that she wrote herself. Dingle, who is the 17-year-old daughter of Court Officer Howard Dingle, has been taking singing lessons for 10 years and has been performing publicly during the last six. She trains in various genres including opera.

The 81st Precinct Explorers are a group of teenagers who work with the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The group showed off by conducting drills led by one of their own, Cheyenne Aponte.

Black History Month is nearly over, but the Brooklyn courts still have a few events left. On Monday there will be a version of “Let’s Make a Deal” played the BHM way, on Tuesday there will be a talk by Dr. Charles E. Bethea, curator of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. Both of those events will be held at the Kings County Supreme Court at 320 Jay St. at 1 p.m.

Next Wednesday will be the “Closing Ceremony” fashion show which will be held at 1 p.m. in the lobby of the Supreme Court at 360 Adams St. That event, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, features judges and court employees dressed up in clothes made by local black artists and fashion designers.

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