Amid an evening of song, dance and spoken word, Councilwoman Debi Rose will honor several veterans in her annual celebration of Black History Month on Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary of St. Philip’s Baptist Church, 77 Bennett Street, Port Richmond.
In her annual celebration, the councilwoman will honor the 369th Veteran’s Association, and Marine veteran Westley Thomas. The 369th Veterans Association was organized in 1954 by Harlem veterans of World War II and the Korean Conflict to assist black veterans and their families. The association has since expanded to encompass the larger metropolitan area, welcoming men and women who have fought in more recent conflicts. It takes its name from the 369th Infantry Regiment, an African-American New York National Guard Unit formed 100 years ago that deployed to France in World War I and eventually became known as the “Harlem Hellfighters.” Westley Thomas, a graduate of Port Richmond High School, served as a sergeant in the Vietnam War and has spent the last several decades advocating for the rights of veterans. He recently published a novel, “A Hard Decision,” that details many of the challenges veterans face today.
“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the 369th Infantry Regiment, as well as the 75th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War II and the formation of the Tuskegee Airmen, I wanted to recognize Staten Islanders who have served their country in the armed forces,” said Councilwoman Debi Rose. “For many veterans, serving in the military meant risking their lives to defeat the enemy at war. But for many African Americans in the service—including my own father, grandfather and sister—serving in the military also meant breaking through the limits placed upon them by society. I want to show them my appreciation, and I hope Staten Islanders of all backgrounds will join me Friday night in honoring their work. We’ll have musical performances, spoken word, dance, and some light refreshments for all to enjoy.”
The event is free and open to the public, and will include performances by the Brighton Heights Reformed Church Youth Orchestra, Curtis High School Jazz Band, St. Philip’s Baptist Church Youth Gospel Choir, vocalist Brandon Stradford, pianist John Jackson, dancer Sylvia Cunningham, and spoken word artist Dyverse. Light refreshments will be served.
For more information, please call 718-556-7370.