Town of Ramapo celebrates Black History Month

On February 7, the Town of Ramapo celebrated Black History Month at Town Hall by raising the Pan-African flag for the first time.

The flag, which was created in the early 1900s, is a representation of the fight against racism and for freedom. It consists of three horizontal stripes: red for “the blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry, and shed for liberation,” black for “the people whose existence as a nation, though not a nation-state, is affirmed by the existence of the flag,” and green for “the abundant and vibrant natural wealth of Africa, the Motherland.” Paul Adler Esq. was the Master of Ceremonies for the celebration. “I think [the flag] represents diversity, equity and inclusion. It recognizes the importance of African American heritage,” stated Adler. “The sun is big enough to shine on everybody. [The African American community] matters, they count and they’re important to us. They are included in the fabric of the community.”

The Town of Ramapo honored four members of the community for their leadership and work fighting for equality.

Dr Francis Pratt was first to be honored for her work as the President of the Nyack Branch of the NAACP and her advancement of public health through her career as a nurse at Nyack Hospital’s Emergency Room, where she was the first African American Head Nurse.

The second person to be honored was Nicole Hines, the current President of the Nyack NAACP.

She founded the Teen Council at the Nyack Center and is the Director of Community Engagement for Racial and Gender Justice and Social Change at the Center for Safety and Change.

“When I think of Black history month, I think of joy… I think of church, I think of music, I think of food, I think of hair. I don’t just think of the pain,” said Hines during her acceptance speech.“We’re here and you can’t hide us. We need to be celebrated.”

After Hines, Wilbur Aldridge, the current Mid-Hudson/Westchester Regional Director of the NAACP, was honored for his history of fighting for civil rights. Aldridge served on the Rockland County Rent Guidelines Board for over 40 years, ensuring fair rents for all. He spoke on the differences between the Town of Ramapo and other towns during his acceptance speech, emphasizing the importance of accepting Black people as members of the community.

“Actions speak louder than any words you could say,” said Aldridge. “If you don’t want to recognize Black people, then don’t tell me they’re welcome there.”

The fourth and last person to be honored was Willie Trotman, President of the Spring Valley Branch of the
NAACP. He was honored for his work fighting for civil rights and for the fairness of education. In his acceptance speech, Trotman emphasized the necessity of remembering the Black Americans who fought for equality before our time, stating, “Somebody, somewhere suffered so that we could get this opportunity.”

Adler spoke highly of the individuals who were honored at the celebration, stating, “They lead by example. People come to the belief that there’s nothing they can do as an individual, they can’t make a change, but each of the people that were honored made changes, one issue at a time. It’s important to show people that one voice, one action can make a difference. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be this great, esoteric conversation.”

Adler also emphasized the importance of voting, pointing out that every voice deserves to be heard. While there have been many successes in the fight against racism, there is still more work to be done, a fact
that Adler refused to leave unacknowledged during the Town of Ramapo’s celebration of Black History Month.

“The challenge isn’t just to remember Black history, but to make Black history moving forward,” said Adler. “The history of Black History Month should be made today and every day moving forward.”


Pan-African flag in front of Town of Ramapo’s Town Hall.

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