Written by Paige McAtee Friday, 14 February 2014 00:00
February marks Black History Month, four weeks dedicated to celebrating achievements of African Americans.
In commemoration, the Islamic Center of Long Island held its 11th annual Black History Month celebration on Saturday, Feb. 1. The theme of the event was “Keeping the Dream Alive.”
The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. Rev. Calvin O. Butts, III. He is president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, as well as pastor of the nationally renowned Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.
Butts spoke about “keeping the dream alive” and what that phrase really meant.
“First of all, what is ‘the dream?’” he asked. “We use these terms so easily, but we rarely take the time to unpack and see what they mean.”
Butts brought up the topic of equality and how God wants us to see each other as the same.
“I have to see the shade of your skin, I can’t help that,” he said. “Thank God for eyesight. I know who is black and who is white, but I don’t see you as any better than me or any less than me because of it.”
One of the walls in the Islamic Center was covered with three large posters listing the names of famous black inventors. The posters listed 25 inventors, including John Christian, who invented and patented new lubricants used in high flying aircraft and NASA space missions, and Philip Emeagwali, the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize winner for developing the fastest supercomputer software in the world.
Several Nassau County Legislators were also present at the Black History Month celebration. A few legislators gave brief speeches, including Kevan Abrahams, Carrié Solages and Laura Schaefer, who represents Westbury and Carle Place.
Town of Hempstead Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad spoke to the audience as a Muslim American.
“For me, color doesn’t matter,” said Ahmad. “The most important thing is that we are human beings.”
As an immigrant, a mother of three, and without any formal education, Ahmad remarked on how in America, she is still able to run for a public office. “The American dream is alive and well and I’m living proof of it,” she said.
After the event, there was South Asian, Indian and Pakistani food made by members of the community, as well as refreshments available for those who were in attendance.