Kingston Kicks Off Black History Month Celebration

By Miranda Reale

KINGSTON – Originally scheduled for Saturday, February 5th, Black History Month Kingston’s kick off event was rescheduled to last Saturday, February 12th. The celebration included activities for kids, local vendors, and performances. Introducing the event, Ulster County Human Rights Commissioner Tyrone Wilson acknowledged County Executive Pat Ryan’s leadership. “We’ve done some amazing things in this administration. I know a lot of things aren’t shown publicly, but trust me when I say that there’s a lot of hard work and communication behind these walls,” he said. Along with the opportunity to celebrate in person last Saturday, one of the aspects that made this year a milestone is the Ulster County office building. “For the first time ever this year, we lit up the county building in recognition of Black History Month and what a moment that was,” Wilson said.

This year is the five year milestone of Black History Month Kingston. Lead organizer of Black History Month Kingston, Frank Waters, introduced the event saying, “This year is going to be different, there are going to be events all year long, not just this month.”

Proud of the art they’ve done, two students from George Washington Elementary present their work at the kick off event at YMCA Kingston.
Proud of the art they’ve done, two students from George Washington Elementary present their work at the kick off event at YMCA Kingston.

The event included speeches from local politicians and community members alike, displaying the efforts Ulster County’s officials have gone to effectively communicate with one another and connect to the community. County Executive Pat Ryan highlighted the importance of lighting the Ulster County office building. “I’m embarrassed we didn’t do this sooner. It’s embarrassing we didn’t light it sooner, but we’re pushing each other,” he said.

New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey attended and introduced the event as well. She highlighted the partners of Harambee Kingston and My Kingston Kids. “This work has never been more important,” she said. Senator Hinchey presented the county with a proclamation from the State Senator’s office congratulating the fifth year anniversary of Black History Month Kingston and highlighting the 250 events organized over the years. In addition, a resolution from Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins honoring Black History Month in the state of New York.

Among local politicians and community organizers, student ambassadors from Rondout Valley High School were in attendance as well. Ulster County Human Rights Commissioner Tyrone Wilson invited students to introduce themselves. Part of the mission of not only Black History Month Kingston, but My Kingston Kids and Harambee as well, is a focus on empowering youth.

“We’re here to build our future leaders,” Wilson said. “It’s so important that we invest in our youth and invest in our younger generations, and I commend you all for taking the leadership and stepping forward. These are our future leaders, invest in them.”


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