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Brooklyn Federal Court honors African-Americans for “Breaking Barriers”

Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney, and Orelia E. Merchant, assistant U.S. attorney. Photos by Rob Abruzzese

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The Eastern District of New York dedicated two hours on Thursday for a program commemorating the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and trailblazing members of the African-American community for breaking through barriers and achieving great accomplishments, both personal and for society at large.

“This is a special day for us,” said United States Attorney for the Eastern District Loretta Lynch. Taking one piece of black American history to focus for the day’s program, the 2014 African-American Program Committee members showcased a short video on the passage and enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act — benchmark legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Understanding that the Civil Rights Act has assuaged but not eliminated the fight against discrimination, three Brooklyn music students performed an original jazz composition titled “Trayvon.” The somber sounds of the saxophone and the strained strings of the violin emulated the emotions surrounding the 2013 murder trial of the unarmed black teenager whose killing was deemed justified by Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground gun-use policy.

Brooklyn artist Ramona Candy also displayed her works, which consist of abstract and figurative images embodying her Brooklyn experiences, her colorful Caribbean heritage and her love of dance movement.

The event’s honoree, Joseph Searles III, became the first black floor broker and member of the New York Stock Exchange in 1970. “A phrase often used [during Black History Month] is that African-Americans built this country, and that’s true when you think of agriculture… [and] manufacturing industries,” Lynch said in her introduction of Searles.

“Black businesses were the bedrock of black communities,” Lynch added. And it is for that reason that the EDNY awarded Searles, a black businessman who blazed a trail in the NYSE and in other aspects of the business and financial world, with the 2014 Trailblazer Award.

Ramona Candy displayed her artworks as part of the court’s celebration.

February 28, 2014 - 10:30am


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