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Public Employee Press

Political Action 2007
Believers to achievers
Hillary honors our Lillian

EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS: Senator Hillary Clinton (left) honors DC 37 Exec. Director Lillian Roberts.


District Council 37 welcomed U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s seventh annual African American Heritage celebration to the union hall Feb. 25 for a ceremony that honored DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts and six others as exceptional leaders and innovators.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it, and I believe that today’s honorees have all understood that. They have been creating a new and better future, sometimes against difficult odds,” Clinton said, “but they believed change would come for the better.”

Clinton chose the union hall — “the home of everyday heroes” — because “DC 37 is always ready to step forward and help,” whether it be Congressional hearings on health issues for 9/11 responders or celebrations such as the union’s Black History Month programs throughout February.

Clinton praised Roberts and DC 37 for doing “so much to see that members live in dignity.”

“She’s a lifelong champion for working people, tireless, fearless and one of the best-dressed women I know,” said Clinton, who awarded Roberts a distinguished service certificate. Clinton praised Roberts for her innovative leadership, for creating the Municipal Employees Housing Program, and for bringing education opportunities to union members.

“I have only been able to accomplish these things with the support of the members,” Roberts said. “Before she passed my mother told me, ‘Your work is not finished.’ ” Roberts said DC 37 would continue to press for better wages, affordable housing, available child care and quality health care. “It’s a crime and a shame that people lack quality health care,” Roberts said. “These issues are challenging, but we are going to make them happen.”

Divine Bradley, Marcia Keizs, Roberts, Hon. Ernest Davis, Clinton, Elsie Crum McCrae and Sheena Wright.

Recalling the historic struggles of those who “started in slavery and ended in triumph,” Clinton also honored the following African American achievers: youth activist Divine Bradley; Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis; Dr. James Forbes, retired senior minister of The Riverside Church; York College President Marcia V. Keizs; Museum of African Art founder and President Elsie Crum McCrae; and Sheena Wright, president and CEO of Abyssinian Development Corp.

The event also featured master drummer Don Ebadunde Eaton, 18-year-old opera singer Melanie J.B. Charles, and teen jazz quintet Q5 Youth Band.

Clinton paid special tribute to freedom fighters Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, who both settled in New York, by introducing legislation to fund memorials to their legacies. The senator also introduced a bill that established the African Burial Ground National Historic Site and the African Burial Ground International Memorial Museum for the more than 400 African ancestors whose Lower Manhattan gravesite was disturbed in 1991.



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