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UFT African Heritage Committee Awards Dinner

Honoring those who ‘Stay Woke’
New York Teacher
Miller Photography

Student scholarship winners Ahmed (second from left) and Jones pose with (from left) Mavis Yon, the chapter leader at PS 156 in Brooklyn; Wendy Walker, a paraprofessional at PS 371 in Brooklyn; and Khiera Heggs Pena, the chapter leader at PS 114 in the Bronx.

Miller Photography
Harmon chats with attendees, including a smiling Elizabeth Perez, the UFT’s Brooklyn borough representative.

“Don’t be asleep when it comes to the political climate we’re engaged in,” said Anthony Harmon, the UFT director of parent and community outreach and the event’s organizer, explaining the Stay Woke theme of the 15th annual UFT African Heritage Committee Awards Dinner on Feb. 2. “The honorees we selected for the night reflect that,” he said. “They’re doing phenomenal work that reflects that vision of staying woke and active in the union and community.” A crowd of about 300 donned dashikis and other African attire at Antun’s of Queens Village to honor Adedoyin Akingba of Gramercy Arts HS in Manhattan, Arvella Tucker McCullough of PS 4 in Queens and Mawelekumi Tokponwey of the School for Legal Studies in Brooklyn, who won the Mary McLeod Bethune Award for Teacher Excellence; LaTonya Crisp, the TWU Local 100 recording secretary, who won the Frederick Douglass Award; and Nick Cruz, the UFT’s Bronx parent and community liaison, who received the Trailblazer Award. The student scholarship winners were Stachy Saint-Gerard of the Brooklyn School for Music and Theatre; Jadin Jones of the Urban Assembly Maker Academy in Manhattan; and Ameeraha Ahmed of Abraham Lincoln HS in Brooklyn. Speakers included UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Hazel Dukes, the president of the NAACP New York State Conference. Akingba, one of the honorees, said the award “made me feel like my work is valued by my colleagues.” Honoree McCullough, who teaches performing arts to students with disabilities and is retiring in the fall, said, “It was a wonderful final tribute. I feel blessed to have been honored this way, and I want to see myself as a symbol of all the people who haven’t been honored. It was just a beautiful evening. I felt loved.”

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