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February 14, 2019
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Board of Regents and State Education Department Celebrate Black History Month

Regents Shared Reflections at February Meeting

Resolution Honors Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, First African American Regent, for Lifetime of Service to the People of New York State

State Education Department and NYS Museum Commemorate Black History Month with Exhibits, Events and Social Media

The New York State Board of Regents and New York State Education Department celebrate Black History Month all monthlong including through moving reflections on the meaning, intent and significance of recognizing historical contributions by African Americans throughout our nation’s history at the February Board of Regents meeting. In addition, Board members honored the first African American Regent, Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, with a resolution recognizing him as a groundbreaking educator, author, psychologist and advocate for racial integration.

“The Regents and I feel that it is so important to remember that we, as a nation, are a collection of many cultures, religions and races and I was personally moved by the inspirational reflections my colleagues shared,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “This remembrance is a powerful reminder that Black History Month is not a singular event, but an opportunity for all of us to renew our commitment to remember our rich history.”

“Black history is American history, and it’s up to us to find ways to celebrate the achievements of black men and women,” Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown said. “To appreciate our history, we have to look at the good and the bad; the suffering and hardship; the perseverance and determination. We are indebted to those who came before, many whose names we’ll never know, the true champions who fought to ensure we all have a seat at the table.”

Regent Judith Johnson began the Board’s Black History Month reflection by remembering the words of Frederick Douglass who said, “Some know the value of education by having it. I know its value by not having it.” Other Board members who shared compelling and poignant thoughts on Black History included Regents Nan Eileen Mead, Catherine Collins, Josephine Finn, Wade Norwood, Lester W. Young, Luis O. Reyes, Roger Tilles, Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown and Chancellor Rosa. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the first black woman to serve in her position, also joined the Regents. The entire meeting was live streamed and these moving and inspirational messages are available to be viewed on the Board of Regents website.

Resolution Honoring Dr. Kenneth Bancroft Clark

The Board honored Regent Emeritus Dr. Kenneth Bancroft Clark with a resolution in recognition of his groundbreaking contributions to advocacy for racial integration. Dr. Clark was the first African American elected to the NYS Board of Regents and served with distinction for 20 years from 1966 to 1986. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University and first black president of the American Psychological Association. Together with his wife, Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark, Dr. Clark founded the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem in 1946 in response to the community’s need for mental health service of all children in need. Dr. Thelma Dye, current Executive Director and CEO of Northside Center for Child Development joined the Regents, accepting the resolution on behalf of the Clark family.

The Clark Auditorium at the New York State Museum is named for Dr. Clark and throughout Black History Month, visitors to the Museum will be able to view panels outside the auditorium that honor his legacy and detail his illustrious career.

Black History Month Commemoration

Throughout February, the State Education Department and New York State Museum are recognizing the importance of Black History Month in a number of ways. Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow is a poster exhibition now open at the Museum that details the national story of the struggle for black equality after the end of slavery and through the Jim Crow era. In addition, artifacts from the State Museum’s African American history collection will also be on display from February 5 through March 3. Black History Month events are also planned at museums and historical societies across New York and the State Museum’s website will be updated often to keep people informed of these events.

The State Education Department, together with Education Trust—New York, is highlighting New York State My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) students throughout the month on social media including Twitter and Facebook. The #MyHistoryMyFuture campaign features inspiring quotes from outstanding students who are sharing how MBK has changed their lives and what their hopes and dreams are for the future.