Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Black History Month
As a part of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s longstanding tradition of celebrating Black History Month and honoring community leaders who have significantly contributed to the borough’s rich diversity and vibrancy, on Thursday night the borough’s leading business advocate recognized several prominent Black Brooklynites for the impact they’ve made in the community over the last year.
Included in the Brooklyn Chamber’s honors this year at the Weeksville Heritage Center in Central Brooklyn were New York State Sen. Roxanne Persaud; Freda Thomas, founder and principal of Freda Thomas Consulting; Keith Forest, principal of Urban ID Media; and cultural entrepreneur and founder of I AM CARIBBEING, Shelley V. Worrell.
New York State Sen. Roxanne Persaud, accepting the Public Service Leader Award, was recognized for her longtime support of economic development and small businesses, particularly Minority and Women-owned Business and Enterprises (M/WBEs), and for her strong community advocacy throughout Brooklyn.
An active member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s M/WBE committee, Freda Thomas was awarded the Samuel Dunston Award for Business Excellence and celebrated for her high level of professionalism and service as a coach, mentor, teacher and all-around expert to many business owners in Brooklyn and throughout New York City.
Revered for his work crafting creative media campaigns that foster corporate responsibility initiatives for M/WBEs, local nonprofits and others in culturally diverse communities, Keith Forest was honored with the Small Business Leader Award.
Shelley V. Worrell was awarded the Community Leader Award, her work ensuring that the cultures of the Caribbean diaspora are represented within the mosaic that is Brooklyn and New York City.
Honorees were also given a Ghanaian kente stole by Jerry Kwabena Kansis, with each color holding unique symbolism, including harmony, union and renewal. The colorful kente cloth is a sign of pride and tradition from its African country of origin and represents a high form of accomplishment and celebration.
“Facing enormous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and unsteady economic recovery, these remarkable leaders stepped up and used their decades of experience in their field to raise the floor of opportunity for our perseverant small business community,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Randy Peers.
“They have demonstrated and continue to show us their resiliency and commitment to empower Brooklynites. It’s an honor to be able to recognize their hard work supporting small businesses and M/WBEs as a part of the Chamber’s Black History Month celebrations,” he added.
As part of the celebration and acknowledgement of outstanding achievements by M/WBEs across Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Chamber and Fiserv Inc., a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions, presented a Back2Business grant to Brooklyn native Annita Taylor, president and CEO of Taylor Made Health, a prominent Black-owned healthcare and wellness consultancy.
The Back2Business program connects small businesses with critical resources, including complimentary mentorship, subject matter expertise and business coaching, technology solutions such as the Clover® point-of-sale platform from Fiserv, and community partners.
A closing highlight of the evening’s celebration was a recitation of the iconic poem “I, Too” by Langston Hughes by New York City teenage poet Sakura Bartholemy, a semi-finalist in the state’s February 26th Poetry Out Loud festival.
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