From the Super Bowl to the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus: Two Memorable Weekends
April 6, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry
After the Morning Ceremony, proud and inspired by Leah’s sermon, I went to the next event which was the Awards Ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Congressman Leroy Comrie officiated. Each awardee had a particular person to introduce him or her. A portion of the recipient’s bio was read. The persons who made the introductions also shared their personal experiences with the awardees.
Assemblyman Charles Barron introduced me. I met Mr. Barron when he was a sophomore at Hunter College. He later became a member of the Black United Front. He served as the Harlem Chapter Chairperson. When we organized the African People Christian Organization (APCO), he became the Executive Director. I had the honor of marrying him and Councilmember Inez Barron. I also baptized him and christened their baby.
He related some of his experiences as my disciple and Chief of Staff. One of the experiences he related was attending high-level meetings with VIPs. Usually, at some points during the discussions, I would turn to him and ask, “What do you think about what was being discussed?” He said it always gave him a feeling of importance when I would ask his opinion on paramount issues.
In my remarks, I mentioned that I was highly honored to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. An award is to be appreciated or valued, depending on who is giving the award, and what it is being given for. So, to receive an award from the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus for lifetime achievement, I deem to be the highest of honors.
As I reflected on this award, and other awards that I have received in the last six months, I must say that I was overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation. IT was not only the awards which were given, it was the diversity of the awards and the organizations which conferred them.
September 23, 2015: I received the Men of Distinction Award from the Citadel of Praise and Worship Church where Dr. Kevin Bond is the Senior Pastor & Founder. “The Men of Distinction Awards Gala salutes outstanding leaders for their commitment and dedication to ministry, civic groups, and communities they serve.”
October 13, 2015: I received the William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacemaker Award. Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin, Jr. was a well-known, distinguished Pastor of Riverside Church and the Chaplain at Yale University, and a long-time peace activist. The award was given by the Peace Action Fund for New York State.
December 3, 2015: I received the Golden Cornerstone Award, which honors those who have become pillars of faith tradition. Their longevity, sustainability and commitment improve the body, mind, and soul of their congregations and communities.
January 14, 2016: I received the First Faith & Justice Torchbearers Award. It was given by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agency (FPWA) in partnership with the New York Theological Seminary. The Faith and Justice Fellowship annually provides a select group of clergy with theologically grounded advance training and focused community engagement. It enables participants to be more effective advocates on behalf of those most in need, and help transform NYC into a place of equal opportunity for all. Ms. Jennifer Austin Jones is the CEO/Executive Director of FPWA; and, Reverend Joel A. Gibson is the director of faith-based initiatives of FPWA.
March 20, 2016: The Community Vanguards of Change Award was given by the Gangstas Making Astronomical Community Changes (GMACC), a grassroots community organization that uses reformed gang members to combat youth violence. Personally, I’ve had occasions to walk the streets with Mr. Shanduke McPhatter, the Founder & President; and, members of GMACC, interacting with young people, especially during tension-packed times.
When the ceremony was over, I kept thinking of the diversity of the organizations and awards. The organizations and establishments represented religions, governments, politics, humanitarianism, grassroots, peace, justice, and equality. Again, I felt profoundly appreciative and grateful to my family, the organizations, and the countless people of all colors, creeds, and political persuasions without whom these awards and the countless others I have received would have been impossible – the people from whom I have received so much, and with whom I have worked, fought, and struggled, to make the world a better place for all of us – again, to emphasize, I am eternally appreciative and grateful.
Moreover, I have been called to live and function in many roles – some of which were prophetic in pioneering. I have not always been understood and appreciated; I’ve been criticized, caricatured, lampooned, etc. To have lived long enough to be honored by so many from the streets to the suites, locally and internationally, I am aware that I am in a class with relatively few.
It is the human custom to kill the prophets and then praise them. Bishop F.D. Washington used to say, “People lie on you when you are alive, and lie for you when you are dead.” It has been my rare privilege and blessing to have been showered with love, appreciation, and honor by countless people while I still abide on this side of history. I am grateful to all of the people, most of all I am grateful to God, through my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Later, we went to the dinner, which is the major event of the Caucus Weekend. The speaker was Ms. Donna Brazile. She struck a perfect balance of humor and substance. She mentioned how she used to come to New York City for the National Black United Front (NBUF) meetings. During that time, one of our slogans was “Forward Ever, Backward Never.” I had appropriated the slogan from Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, and the New Jewels Movement in Grenada in 1979. It was one of the slogans that they used after the coup which ousted Prime Minister Eric Gairy.
When I learned of the coup, as Chairman of NBUF, I dispatched a letter to the State Department, urging the recognition of the New Jewels Movement, as the legitimate government of Grenada. I led a delegation to the first anniversary. How well I remember that the NBUF banner was placed conspicuously on the scoreboard in the stadium where the First Anniversary of the new government was held.
As I got ready to retire for the night, words and images kept crowding my mind. I thought of the people at the Convention in whose lives I had interacted in significant ways. They were movers and shakers in their various careers:
-Ms. Donna Brazile was the news commentator for CNN. She had been Vice President Al Gore’s assistant campaign manager when he ran for President.
-New York Public Advocate Tish James had been a member of our church during her years as a law school student.
-Senator Velmanette Montgomery. We participated in her political campaigns and our support was instrumental when she was elected.
-I’ve already mentioned Charles and Inez Barron.
-Assemblywoman Annette Robinson : It seems that she has been around as long as I have, or maybe longer.
-Of course, my own, daughter, Leah.
… to be continued.