NEW YORK – Council Member Rory I. Lancman hosted a Black History Month Celebration to honor African American cultural leaders in the Queens community. Yesterday’s event, which was held at The First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, was co-sponsored by Congressman Gregory Meeks, State Senator Leroy Comrie, Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman, and Council Member I. Daneek Miller.

Council Member Lancman awarded proclamations to the following local African American leaders: Greg Mays, Founder and Executive Director of A Better Jamaica; Wanda Best, Founder of Art Transforms; and Andrew Clarke, Founder and Director of BRAATA Productions. In his remarks, Council Member Lancman praised all three leaders for their dedication to the Queens community and their work to improve the lives of others.

The audience was treated to performances by The First Presbyterian Church Choir and the Flowing Psalms Dance Ministry. Council Member Lancman presented proclamations to both groups.

“Black History Month is a special time where we honor African American leaders who have contributed so much to the world and to our local community,” said Council Member Rory I. Lancman. “Greg, Wanda and Andrew are three remarkable people, and their talent, commitment and activism have impacted so many in our neighborhoods. It was a pleasure to partner with The First Presbyterian Church and my colleagues in government to celebrate these cultural leaders and reflect on the importance of Black History Month.”

“The First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica, under the leadership of Rev. Patrick O’Connor, is ecstatically thrilled to host this year’s Black History Month Celebration with Councilman Lancman,” said The First Presbyterian Church. “Black History Month is a time we set aside to honor our rich history as Africans and celebrate our achievements in the African American community and the populace of Africans around the Globe. We are also very happy to be showcasing the talent we have right here in our church with contributions from our Worship Arts Ministry.”

“From academia to athletics and music to activism and beyond, Southeast Queens has been home to countless African American and Caribbean American legends,” said Senator Leroy Comrie. “I commend Council Member Lancman for hosting this wonderful celebration of Black History, and I was proud to join Congress Member Meeks, Assembly Member Hyndman, and Council Member Miller as a co-sponsor.”

“Spreading knowledge and increasing the understanding of our history is key to deconstructing the levels of racial injustice and inequality in this country,” said Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman. “Though we only attribute one month to honoring Black History, every day is an opportunity for us to recognize the heroes AND SHEROES BOTH PAST & PRESENT of our community. However, our battle is still not over. There needs to be significant improvements to our criminal justice system, greater access to quality healthcare, and immigration reform. Let’s stand together and keep striving towards the dreams of our ancestors.”

“I’m proud to co-sponsor my colleague Councilman Lancman’s celebration of Black History Month,” said Black, Latino and Asian Caucus co-chair Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “In Greg Mays, Wanda Best and Andrew Clarke he is recognizing three outstanding cultural leaders whose collective body of work has served to entertain and educate our youth, build character and highlight social issues of concern to communities of color. We honor them for the many gifts they have bestowed on us as well as those who aspire to make their own artistic contributions to the world.”

“A Better Jamaica is delighted to receive this recognition for our efforts from Council Member Rory Lancman,” said Greg Mays. “Council Member Lancman has repeatedly demonstrated his interest in expanding the arts offering here in southeast Queens by allocating funding to us for several of our arts programs — The AirTrain Jazz Festival, Classic Film Fridays, The Delightful Festival, and The Jamaica Dance Festival — and to other arts organizations dedicated to expanding Jamaica’s arts offering. We look forward to continuing our partnership.”

“I am an artist who is an Activist for social change,” said Wanda Best. “Visual art has transformative powers.  It can express, communicate, and educate. As a social justice artist my art focus on  prison issues and violence against women.  I use visual art to stimulate discussion around untouchable topics.”

“I am beyond honored to receive this proclamation,” said Andrew Clarke. “As a Caribbean-born man this moment means so much. Looking at the times we are in now, this month has every greater importance. And as we celebrate this month and how much Caribbean immigrants have influenced and contributed to American History.”