by Derrel Jazz Johnson
The COVID-19 Pandemic that plagued the globe in 2020 and into 2021 could not stop the One Hundred Black Men of New York (OHBM-NY), a nonprofit organization that provides scholarship, mentoring, and educational support for the African-American community, from holding its 41st Annual Gala in a virtual setting on Thursday, February 18, 2021.
The Gala, which attracted over 3,000 virtual attendees and raised over $500,000, featured an awards ceremony. The honorees included Governor Andrew Cuomo, 56th Governor of the State of New York, Michael Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and 108th Mayor of New York City, New York State Attorney General Leticia James, Congressman Ritchie Torres, MSNBC Host Joy Reid and many more.
Some of the most poignant points of the night were made in the acceptance speech of Michael Bloomberg, who acknowledged the Honorable David N. Dinkins, the Greenwood Initiative, which pays tribute to Black Wall Street, and also acknowledged that “Black history is American history.”
“Today, I’m thinking of Mayor Dinkins, and I know he would be glad that nothing—not even a pandemic—is stopping this group from meeting and continuing its mission,” said Michael R. Bloomberg during his acceptance speech for OHBM-NY’s Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Courage in Corporate Leadership Award. “We’ve got a lot done together over the years. We’ve joined forces to improve education, promote public health, create jobs and affordable housing, and expand opportunities for all. And now those efforts are a big part of our work at my foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies…I want to thank you again for this honor—it really means a lot. And to everyone at One Hundred Black Men and your partners: keep up the great work.”
The executive director of OHBM-NY made remarks as well.
“Every year, One Hundred Black Men of New York’s Gala event brings together influential leaders from across New York and around the country who share our goal of empowering the next generation of Black men and women,” said Courtney A. Bennett, Executive Director of One Hundred Black Men of New York. “After a year like none other, while the structure of this event had to change, our mission remains the same—and its importance is greater and clearer now more than ever. Our distinguished honorees and participants understand our vision and have worked tirelessly to help achieve it throughout their lives and careers. We thank them for their efforts, and we look forward to working with them to achieve our common goals for years to come.”
Words from the New York Reserve Bank President John Williams raised hope that there will not be a virtual gala in 2022 because of vaccine distributions and strong financial support in the state.
“With strong federal fiscal support and continued progress on vaccination, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth this year could be the strongest we’ve seen in decades,” Williams said at the virtual gala.
There is a well-known expression that says you can’t keep a good man down. In this case, the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t keep One Hundred Black Men of New York down, and from holding its annual gala virtually. `