BPL honors Jon Batiste, other notables at fundraiser

Gala held under the stars at Grand Army Plaza

June 17, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Supporters of Brooklyn Public Library gathered this week in the newly-renovated Central Library at Grand Army Plaza to recognize leaders improving the lives of everyday New Yorkers. More than $1 million was raised to support the library’s programs and collections. 

The library offers tens of thousands of free programs a year for people from all walks of life — immigrants learning a new language, students preparing for college, older adults seeking companionship, aspiring entrepreneurs launching their dreams, children discovering the world and more. 

“We were thrilled to be back in person to celebrate Brooklyn Public Library’s 125th anniversary and the individuals and organizations in the borough whose talent, perseverance and commitment to justice inspire us. Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women initiative is on track to close opportunity gaps long suffered by Black women and girls in Brooklyn and across the country,” said Linda Johnson, president and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. 

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“And through their music and writing, Jon Batiste and Suleika Jaouad provide clarity, joy and hope in equal abundance. We are delighted to honor their accomplishments and to welcome our supporters back to Central Library,” she added. 

Guests at the Brooklyn Public Library’s 125th Anniversary Gala Celebration busted a move at the event’s after party.

Suleika Jaouad and her husband, Jon Batiste, were honored for their contributions to the world of art, music, writing and journalism. The couple lives in Brooklyn.

 Jon Batiste is a five-time Grammy winner who has played on some of the biggest stages around the world, including the Grammys and Kennedy Center Honors, and nightly with his band Stay Human, appearing on CBS’s “Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” He has also spent much of his career bringing music back to where it started —including on the steps of the Central Library in celebration of Juneteenth with Sing for Hope and in the opening season of BPL’s Dweck Center in 2008.

Dancing at the Brooklyn Public Library’s 125th Anniversary Gala Celebration could have gone well into the night. Here the last few guests enjoy the last few songs from DJ FRITZo.

Suleika Jaouad is the author of the instant New York Times bestselling memoir, “Between Two Kingdoms.” She wrote the Emmy Award-winning New York Times column Life, Interrupted and her reporting and essays have been featured in The New York Times MagazineThe AtlanticVogue and NPR, among others. Her mainstage TED Talk was one of the ten most popular of 2019 and has nearly 5 million views. 

Batiste accepted the award on behalf of himself and Jaouad, noting that of the many recognitions they have received throughout their careers, this was one of the greatest. He added, “Libraries are an oasis in our culture and one such as the Brooklyn Public Library is leading the way.”

A guest at the Brookyn Public Library’s 125th Anniversary Gala Celebration joyously twirls the fringe on her dress as she and other guests danced into the night.

Internationally acclaimed musician, composer and educator Wynton Marsalis presented the honor, noting that “through the synergy of their union, they have enriched and advanced our social, cultural and civic life – here in Brooklyn, and beyond – even to some of the furthest reaches of our planet.” 

The Goldman Sachs “One Million Black Women” initiative was also honored. In partnership with Black-women-led organizations, financial institutions and others, Goldman Sachs has committed $10B in direct investment capital and $100 million in philanthropic capital over the next decade to address the gender and racial biases that Black women have faced for generations. 

Nina Collins and Chief Librarian, Nick Higgins hold a poster of artwork created by Jnéydé Williams for the new library card honoring the history, contributions and culture of Black Americans.

Launched in March 2021, the initiative has invested nearly $1 billion across the core pillars of health care, job creation and workforce development, education, affordable housing, digital connectivity, financial health and access to capital

“We are proud to be honored by the Brooklyn Public Library,” said Asahi Pompey, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. “Institutions like the Brooklyn Public Library serve as critical anchors of our communities.” 

 Lindsay Greene, president and CEO of the Navy Yard, presented the honor to Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women. She previously served as chief strategy officer of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and as chief strategy officer for Economic Development and Housing in the New York City Mayor’s Office. 

Gizelle George-Joseph, COO of the Goldman Sachs’ Global Investment Research division, accepted the honor.

DJ FRITZo kept the mood elevated with a mix of classic and contemporary dance hits.

 Baratunde Thurston served as host for the evening. A trustee of Brooklyn Public Library, Thurston is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for “The Daily Show,” advised the Obama White House, and wrote The New York Times bestseller How To Be Black.

 Mayor Adams delivered additional remarks and guests were entertained by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Brass Queens and DJ FRITZo.

Party-goers revelled in the nostalgic hits like “To Be Real.”
Members of Brass Queens flanked guests as they made their way outside to the evening’s after party.
Guests dance their way outside for drinks, delicious deserts and dancing al fresco.
Brass Queens, a Brooklyn-based New Orleans inspired eight-piece band with an all female horn section, closed out the awards ceremony.
Bird’s Eye View: The Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is now resplendent after a much-needed restoration.
Nina Collins, Chair of the Brooklyn Public Library Board of Trustees, asked all Library staff to stand so their contributions to the Library could be recognized by the audience.
Guests greeted Mayor Eric Adams with a standing ovation. During his remarks, he congratulated all the honorees and the Brooklyn Public Library on their milestone anniversary. He also assured attendees that “New York is Back!”
Jon Batiste accepts honors for himself and his wife, writer Suleika Jaouad.
Jon Batiste and Wynton Marsalis backstage at the awards ceremony. The two are long-time friends and both passionate about the transformative power of music.
Gizelle George-Joseph, Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs’ Global Investment Research division accepted the honor for the firm’s One Million Black Women initiative.
Lindsay Greene, President and CEO of the Navy Yard, presented the honor to Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women initiative. The program was created to close opportunity gaps Black women and girls have faced for generations and to this day, made worse by the epidemic.
President & CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library, Linda E. Johnson beamed with pride from the podium. “We were thrilled to be back in person to celebrate Brooklyn Public Library’s 125th anniversary and the individuals and organizations in the borough whose talent, perseverance and commitment to justice inspire us. “
The evening’s Host, Baratunde Thurston Baratunde is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show, advised the Obama White House, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black.
The Brooklyn Youth Chorus performs at the start of the awards ceremony.
The Honorable Alice Fisher Rubin is a retired New York City Civil Court Judge, former trial attorney, former member of NYS Governor’s executive team, and former NYC Commissioner. She is the longest sitting Trustee of the Brooklyn Public Library and attended the gala with her husband Lowell.
The weather was perfect as distinguished guests of the Brooklyn Public Library’s 125th Anniversary Gala Celebration enjoyed cocktail hour. The event honored Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women Initiative, Musician Jon Batiste and Writer, Suleika Jaouad.
Brooklyn Public Library Board of Trustees members and gala co-chairs. (From Left to Right) Tim Ingrassia, Cassandra Metz, Baratunde Thurston, Erin Texeira, Chair, Nina Collins, Chad Dickerson, Sandra Schubert, Michael Liburd with Brooklyn Public Library CEO and President Linda Johnson.

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