New Exhibit Pays Tribute to African-American Leaders Who Fought and Continue to Fight for Social Justice
Exhibit Photos Available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of the Black History Month exhibit honoring African-American public servants whose achievements and influence made them pioneers in New York State. The exhibit is located in the War Room on the second floor of the New York State Capitol and will run through the end of February.
"New York's extraordinary history was built on the significant accomplishments of the inspiring men and women who fought for social justice and equal rights," Governor Cuomo said. "These individuals have paved the way for others to rise and continue to make invaluable contributions that improve the lives of all New Yorkers. This exhibit commemorating Black History Month is a fitting and powerful way to recognize their achievements."
In total, ten African-American leaders are being recognized for their accomplishments, including:
- Letitia James: The first woman of color to hold statewide office in New York and the first woman to be elected Attorney General.
- David A. Paterson: New York's first African-American Governor.
- H. Carl McCall: The first African-American elected to statewide office as New York State Comptroller.
- Andrea Stewart-Cousins: The first woman and black woman to lead a legislative house in New York's Capitol.
- Carl E. Heastie: The first African American to serve as leader of the New York State Assembly.
- Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes: The first African American to be elevated to serve as Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly.
- David Dinkins: The first African-American mayor of New York City.
- Bessie Buchanan: The first African-American woman elected to the New York State Assembly.
- Jane Bolin: The country's first African-American woman judge with her appointment to the New York City Domestic Relations Court.
- Shirley Chisholm: The first African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Attorney General Letitia James said, "It is an honor to be recognized among such a powerful and esteemed group of Black changemakers in New York. These leaders dedicated their lives to uplifting our communities and have moved us forward in immeasurable ways. We are a better and more equal state because of their leadership and I thank Governor Cuomo for sharing the stories of these pioneers."
Former New York State Governor David A. Paterson said, "As the first African-American Governor of New York, I am honored to be part of this important exhibit that highlights the many accomplishments of black New Yorkers. In New York, we celebrate our diversity and see it as a strength, and this exhibit is no different. I hope residents and tourists who visit this exhibit will draw inspiration from these visionary leaders."
Former New York State Comptroller and SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall said, "It is truly humbling for me to be included alongside leaders in our community that fought for social justice and laid the ground work for prosperity and upward mobility. My hope is for this exhibit to inspire the next generation of leaders to continue that fight and serve their community with the goal to lift all New Yorkers. My thanks to Governor Cuomo for promoting the many contributions of African Americans."
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "I am honored to be a part of this important exhibit that recognizes African-American history in our great state. Each pioneer stands on the shoulders of countless heroes who will never be recognized. It is my hope that the African-American legacy of triumph and struggle will continue to inspire future generations toward full realization of the American Dream."
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "There is no doubt that New York State has been shaped by the countless contributions of African Americans. It is an honor to have the distinction of being the first African American to serve as speaker of the New York State Assembly. Here in New York, we continue to change the face of leadership and challenge the status quo. This year, I have the privilege of serving alongside Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Attorney General Tish James as they help break barriers for women of color in New York. We are just getting started."
Majority Leader Crystal People-Stokes said, "I commend the Governor for recognizing the achievements and accomplishments of all the African-American public servants past and present upon whose shoulders we stand. I follow in the footsteps of all the great Black leaders who came before me. Like my hero Shirley Chisholm the first Black Woman to run for President once said, 'I am and always will be a catalyst for change.'"
Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins said, "It is an honor to be recognized as a leader among New York State's African American community. I hope this exhibit encourages younger generations of New Yorkers to overcome obstacles in their pursuit and achievement of their dreams."
The Black History Month exhibit is free and open to the public. More information about visiting the New York State Capitol is available here.