Celebration Marks Black History Month

Huntington’s rich history of Black contributions to culture was honored Thursday night with music, dance and words.

The town’s Black History Month celebration at Walt Whitman High School  included the voices of Countrywood Primary Center pupils who sang Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing”), and a rousing performance by the Black History Month Gospel Choir of Huntington.

Town Supervisor Ed Smyth noted the legacy of Black residents of Huntington, including Peter Crippen, a 19th Century property owner and a founder of what became Bethel AME Church; Samuel Ballton, a successful farmer and landowner who became known as the “Pickle King of Greenlawn”; musicians John and Alice Coltrane; the educator Booker T. Washington; Richard Robertson III, the first African American police officer in Huntington; Paul Johnson, an athlete and community activist; and Dee Thompson, a community advocate with innumerable contributions to the health, economics, and education of Huntington residents.

South Huntington students participated in the program throughout the evening, including  “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sung by Kamar Patterson, and the National Anthem by Brielle Browne; the Walt Whitman jazz band and a performance by the Stimson Middle and Silas Wood band.

Dr. Lynn M. O’Connor, a leader in the field of colon and rectal surgery, was the keynote speaker.

Members of Thompson’s family announced plans for a scholarship in her name while Whitman student Cheyenne Flythe was  recognized by the town’s African American Task Force for her contributions to the community.

Several elected officials or their representatives were on hand, including State Assemblyman Steve Stern; town council members Dr. Dave Bennardo, Teresa Mari, Brooke Lupinacci, as well as town clerk Andre Raia, and town tax receiver Jillian Guthman; Suffolk Legislator Stephanie Bontempi, while Karen Klafter represented Legislator Tom Donnelly.


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