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African Heritage Committee Awards Dinner Dance 2023

‘Thriving Into Our Future’
New York Teacher
African heritage dinner
Jonathan Fickies

Committee Chair Wendy Walker-Wilson recognizes the children of Shelly Vilsaint, a teacher at Frederick Douglass Academy III Secondary School in the Bronx who died in a car accident in November. Vilsaint was honored posthumously.

The UFT African Heritage Committee Awards Dinner Dance restored music and festivity to its 20th annual event on Feb. 3, reflected in its theme: “Thriving Into Our Future.” Committee Chair Wendy Walker-Wilson explained: “During the pandemic, we were just surviving. This year, we’re trying to get back to normal.” The Trailblazer Award went to UFT Treasurer Debra Penny for getting benefits for families of UFT members who died of COVID-19 and for winning full-time paraprofessionals automatic membership in the Teachers’ Retirement System. Brooklyn state Sen. Jabari Brisport received the Frederick Douglass Award for assisting students who live in alternative housing and members of the LGBTQ community. The Mary McLeod Bethune Award for Teacher Excellence was presented to Nathaniel Wilcox of P4@179 in Queens. There were tributes to longtime Paraprofessionals Chapter Leader Shelvy Young-Abrams and Queens District 28 Representative Angela Artis, both recently retired.