WHITE PLAINS – Last Monday, the Westchester County Board of Legislators celebrated their annual Black History Month observance by honoring two exemplary individuals – Mamie Duncan-Gibbs of Yonkers and Deputy Police Commissioner Neil Reynolds of New Rochelle – in a virtual ceremony.
Board Chair Catherine Borgia (D – Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton, Ossining, Peekskill) convened the ceremony, welcoming guests both virtually and in person. She explained, “Each year, there is a national theme for Black History Month. This year’s theme is ‘Black Resistance,’ which recognizes the courageous stand Black Americans have taken against historic oppression in pursuit of self-determination and equality. They have resisted historic and ongoing oppression in all forms, including the racial terrorism of lynching and police brutality, since their arrival upon these shores.
“Tonight, and the entire month of February, is an opportunity to honor the accomplishments of our honorees and all Black Americans in our community and throughout history. Black history is American history. There would be no American history without Black history.”
Majority Leader Christopher Johnson (D – Yonkers) presented the first proclamation saying, “Mamie Duncan-Gibbs enjoyed much success on the Broadway stage but knew there would be a time to give back. She did just that in her time as Executive/Artistic Director of Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc., better known as YTI.
“Her mission was to provide the youth of Yonkers with high-quality instruction and excellent training that could carry them into the professional world of the arts… As a school educator, I know how important it is to give our youth creative outlets so they can express themselves freely and appropriately. Providing them with these safe spaces and the foundation needed to be successful in life is no small feat, so I appreciate and commend Mamie for all the work she has done with our young people and now as an advocate for senior wellness and fitness in Yonkers.”
Mamie Duncan-Gibbs thanked the legislator and said, “I’ve been fortunate to share what I love to do my entire life. Looking back, I realize that I was surrounded by excellence like my parents, who worked hard to provide for seven children, and the folks in the neighborhood who had their own small businesses. Seeing and feeling that spirit of excellence all around me helped me become the woman I am today. I’ve always been aware of my responsibility to make a difference in my community. Thankfully, the arts have allowed me to do that.”
The Board declared Sunday, February 12, 2023 “Mamie Duncan-Gibbs Day” in Westchester County.
Legislator Terry Clements (D – New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor) presented the second proclamation saying, “It is with great pride and admiration that I recognize the outstanding service and career of Deputy Police Commissioner Neil Reynolds, a lifelong New Rochelle resident, as we celebrate Black History Month.
“Newly promoted from Captain on January 4, his professional experience, strong leadership skills, and calm temperament make him a role model for modern policing. Deputy Police Commissioner Neil Reynolds was a perfect choice to establish and lead the new Professional Development and Community Engagement Division of the New Rochelle Police Department.”
Reynolds thanked Legislator Clements, saying, “I owe my family, friends and neighbors for everything that they did in helping raise me. I thank the City of New Rochelle as a whole – my city – my colleagues past and present, of the New Rochelle Police Department – the best department in Westchester County and, I believe, the entire state for all their support.
“I believe that no one achieves anything purely on their own. I am standing here today because of those who came before me. My accomplishments were only possible because so many paved a way for me. Countless black men and black women fought, struggled, lived, and died so that I might have an easier time. I am forever grateful and humbled by their stories.
“I think that the best way for me to show my appreciation to them, is to continue to build bridges and pave the road for those who follow. I am because they were.”
The Board declared Saturday, February 11, 2023, “Deputy Police Commissioner Neil Reynolds Day” in Westchester County.