Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Lift Every Voice and Sing! Black History Month Celebrations near and far

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Lift every voice and sing,

‘Til earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the listening skies,

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,

Let us march on ’til victory is won.

– James Weldon Johnson

Peekskill has a long and storied history in the African American Experience and has been celebrating Black History Month for a very long time. With deep roots stretching back to the American Colonies through the Revolutionary War, a deep and storied history with multiple stops on the Underground Railroad, through the Civil Rights Movement and up until today, Peekskill has celebrated Black History for a very long time.

Youtube video Credit: @NAACP

In the book Peekskill’s African American History: A Hudson Valley Community’s Untold Story by John Curran, former City Historian guides readers through Peekskill’s African American History from the American Revolution to the Underground Railroad, right up to modern day and the first African-American to serve as mayor of a city in the history of New York and beyond. 

“Local historian John J. Curran goes beyond the headlines and behind the scenes as he seeks out the people whose quiet, consistent contributions were no less dynamic in bringing about social change.” Readers can borrow the book at The Field Library (4 copies are available), or their own copy at the Bruised Apple, the Field Library Bookstore, Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

 

Peekskill’s deep roots in the Underground Railroad, as News 12’s Ty Milburn reported in 2019, highlights Sister La Fern Joseph (who has been running the Underground Railroad Tours since 1997) in the Underground Railroad tour in Peekskill shows lives of runaway slaves in 1800s. Ken Johnson also highlighted La Fern Joseph, Peekskill Underground Railroad Tours one year ago in a YouTube project on the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad Tours in Peekskill are highly recommended, extremely detailed and a moving experience. However, they only occur once in a while, so keep your eye out to Sister’s in Support website and the Underground Railroad link to find out about upcoming Underground Railroad Tours in Peekskill.


As February 2024 comes to a close, there are many Black History Month events that are planned here in Peekskill and the surrounding communities. These events are open to the public and places where the Community can come together and celebrate Black History Month. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

7:00 – 8:30 pm Up Close with Andy Hammerstein and V.L. Cox at the Bedford Playhouse 

 

Expanding on his Q&A in Connect to Northern Westchester’s January/February issue, Andy Hammerstein sits down with Peekskill artist V.L. Cox to discuss her life and work. 

As Jeannette Sanderson reported in the Peekskill Herald on April 7, 2022 in V.L. Cox Uses Art to Open Minds and Hearts, Cox was born in Louisiana and raised in Arkansas. Throughout her life and career, Cox has created art work surrounding issues of human rights and equality. That has made her both a hero and a villain. Her work has appeared in galleries and museums throughout the country and Cox’s “Images of the American South” collection, a 30-year narrative using original historical and vintage objects to tell a story, is part of the United States Library of Congress. 

Cox’s early years were tumultuous as a child of divorce and an abusive and alcoholic parent, to being raised in Arkansas in the care of her grandmother and with the help of influential civil rights activists. Cox recalls, “I was also raised by a black woman named Queen Victoria, who was one of my grandmother’s best friends. She was wonderful. She taught me about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what the fight for civil rights meant. She was also the mother of Miss Annie Abrams of Little Rock, who is a civil rights activist and a legend down there. I remember when Arkansas schools finally desegregated in ‘68. I remember the first black child in my first grade class. When I invited her to my birthday party, many white parents wouldn’t let their kids attend. I remember all of that. I feel this history is important; it wasn’t that long ago, and what they’re saying now regarding religious freedom and white supremacy is still very much alive.”  

In this Q & A with Andy Hammerstein,Cox, who now lives in Peekskill, will discuss everything from her early years living with an abusive mother to fleeing Arkansas in 2021, fearing for her future. Tickets can be purchased ($15 for adults and $12 for children and senior citizens) on the Bedford Playhouse website,

 

6:00 – 8:30 pm Revolutionary 250 and Shirley Green will conduct a presentation entitled: Revolutionary Blacks, Discovering the role of Black soldiers in the Revolutionary War in Westchester at the Ossining Public Library 

Following a reception at 6:00 pm, Dr. Shirley L. Green, professor and author of Revolutionary Blacks: Discovering the Frank Brothers, Freeborn Men of Color, Soldiers of Independence, will discuss the lives of William and Benjamin Frank, two brothers who enlisted in Rhode Island Regiments, during the American Revolutionary War in the spring of 1777. The Rhode Island Regiment was active in Westchester County and included enslaved and freeborn Black, Indigenous and white soldiers. In 1781, the Rhode Island Regiment  was attacked by loyalist militia at Pines Bridge in Yorktown, NY in 1781. Dr. Green will discuss the Frank brothers’ experiences and their military experiences also underscore the significant distinction between free blacks in military service and those who had been enslaved, and how they responded in different ways to the harsh realities of war.

This event is free and pre-registration is encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. To register for this event click here.

Friday, February 23, 2024

7:00 – 9:00 pm Black History Month Explosion & African Heritage Day Events at Mount Olivet Church 

The Peekskill NAACP and Mount Olivet Baptist Church will kick off a weekend of events celebrating Black History Month and Heritage at Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Peekskill, NY. 

On Friday, February 23rd from 7 – 9 pm there will be an opening celebration of events that will feature music, dance, drums and the spoken word.

On Saturday, February 24th from 10:00 am – 12:00 noon “Safe Space Saturday” will be an event where a round table discussion will occur and people will be sharing heritage stories.

On Sunday, February 25th beginning at 10:45 am, singing and dancing will occur as the NAACP and Mount Olivet Baptist Church Celebrate African Heritage Day during a closing celebration and service. 

All of the events are free, open to the public, and will take place at Mount Olivet Baptist Church, 11 Rev G Franklin Wiggins Plaza, Peekskill, NY 10566. 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

2:00 – 5:00 pm Black History Month “African American And The Arts: The Art Of Resistance” at Sun River Health Center 

The Sun River Health Center will host an Art of Resistance art exhibition in honor of Black History Month in the health center’s Atrium. The event will include performances from 10 local spoken word artists and will highlight the exhibition’s works that are currently on display which include pieces from nine graffiti artists who all drew on the theme of resistance. The event will be hosted by author, spoken word artist, and community activist Tom Ray, led by Peekskill artist and Sun River Health Vice President of Immigrant Health Wilfredo Morel, and will include an appearance from former Peekskill mayor and youth advocate André “Noodle” Rainey.

This exhibition is presented by Sun River Health in tribute to their late founder, the Reverend Jeannette J. Phillips. For more information regarding the event, reach out to Wilfredo Morel at 914-643-4392 or [email protected] or contact: Jeffrey Palmer 917-692-9174 at [email protected] 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

3:00 – 5:00 Peekskill Museum presents “Steven Worthy: Painter, Musician, Songwriter, Historian and Teacher

The Peekskill Museum will celebrate Black History Month hosting an engaging, informative and inspirational presentation by Steven Worthy, an iconic figure in the Hudson Valley, often referred to as a modern-day, multi-talented “Renaissance” man. 

Steven A. Worthy loved to draw until an art teacher discouraged him, and he pursued all aspects of music-production, performing and composing as vocalist, mastering several instruments, and bandleader. At a young age Steven met a young Jean-Michel Basquiat and used to draw with him during visits with their families. In 2015, Steven returned to his first love and has created hundreds of paintings, prints and drawings. His Facebook newsletter, “The Peekskill Parisian” promotes Peekskill as an art-innovative hub for emerging artists. Steven has a studio in Peekskill and lectures on American art collectors, museums.

With his innate charm, humor and enthusiasm, Worthy’s Peekskill Museum program promises to be entertaining and educational for both young and old alike. He’ll share anecdotes from his childhood, family history, and the experiences that helped to shape and propel his multifaceted career and talents, with a view towards inspiring others to achieve their own dreams and aspirations.

The event will take place at the Peekskill Museum located at 124 Union Avenue beginning at 3pm. Light refreshments will be offered afterward. This event is free for Museum members  and $10 for non-members. All proceeds go to support the Museum, a non-profit 501c3 organization. https://peekskillmuseum.org/

 

11:00am Park Street AME Zion hosts a “Black History Month Celebration. Celebration

The historic Park Street AME Zion Church, built in 1852, with roots back to the Underground Railroad, will kick off an all-day Black Heritage Month celebration. Join Park Street AME Zion Church in the celebration which begins at 11 a.m. The event is free, open to the public and cultural attire is encouraged. 


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About the Contributor
As a Peekskill native, Dave is thrilled to be working with the Peekskill Herald showcasing featured calendar events. A 1999 graduate of PHS, he remembers reading and enjoying the original weekly print edition of the Peekskill Herald every Thursday. He especially liked the political stories, local features and sports coverage when it was written by Peekskill Runner columnist Jack Burns who always managed to weave history into the running times. An avid hiker, he enjoys exploring the local trails as well as the concrete ones in his job as a conductor for Metro North Railroad. He’s a former teacher and co-founder of the Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park, where he frequently can be found with his Koda. He’s happy to be part of the Herald’s growth as the source of local news for Peekskill and looks forward to highlighting a few of many of the events and happenings in Peekskill and the surrounding communities. Reach Dave at [email protected]