It was a night of food, festivity and recognition as members of the UFT African Heritage Committee gathered in Queens for the group’s 19th annual Awards Dinner Dance on Feb. 4. The event, where the theme was “Embracing Challenges to Build Our Future,” honored the UFT’s Sterling Roberson with the Trailblazer Award, Queens Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman with the Frederick Douglass Award for Civil and Human Rights, and special education teacher Diamond Skinner with the Mary McLeod Bethune Award for Teacher Excellence.
“The African Heritage Committee started this event to recognize our peers,” said Committee Chair Wendy Walker-Wilson. “It’s African American History Month, so it’s also a way for us to celebrate our culture.”
The dinner ordinarily features African drummers and dancers, but those elements were scrapped this year for COVID-19 safety, said Walker-Wilson. It also usually draws more than 300 guests but attendance was capped at 150 to allow for social distancing, and all attendees were masked when not eating.
Roberson, who retired in September after 12 years as UFT vice president for career and technical education high schools, received the prestigious Trailblazer Award “for all the work he did to put CTE in the forefront citywide, statewide and all over the United States,” Walker-Wilson said.
“This award is extra special because it’s coming from my colleagues,” said Roberson. “It feels great.”