Belafonte, Schultz, Bloomberg Honored At Abyssinian's Harlem Renaissance Day

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Actor-activist and champion of human rights globally Harry Belafonte, a recipient of the Harlem Renaissance Award presented by Abyssinian Development Corporation shown with Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III Photo credit: E. Lee White


Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC), the nationally renowned not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality affordable housing and delivering human services, particularly to the homeless, elderly, families and children celebrated the Harlem Renaissance Day of Commitment Leadership Breakfast Wednesday morning.

The event, which was attended by over 600 of New York’s most influential business, civic and political leaders is an opportunity for ADC, its longtime partners, friends and constituents to come together and celebrate more than two decades of extraordinary accomplishments, programs and services that have contributed to the electrifying revival of the Harlem community—and to spark new strategies for future growth.

Held in the Great Hall at Shepard Hall, on the campus of City College in the historic Hamilton Heights section of Harlem and hosted by Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, Pastor of The Abyssinian Baptist Church and ADC Chairman, the Leadership Breakfast celebrated ADC’s Education Pipeline—a holistic approach to increasing and improving opportunities for young people to benefit from a quality education continuum.

Renaissance Awards were presented by Harlem school children to: Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks (award accepted by Rodney Hines); internationally acclaimed actor, activist and Harlem resident, Harry Belafonte; and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Kathryn C. Chenault, longtime ADC supporter and dedicated advocate of educational support for Harlem’s children, received special recognition for her service to ADC and the Harlem community.

The Harlem Renaissance Awards presented to the honorees were works of student art created through the Integrated Arts Curriculum at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School, curated by Principal Dawn DeCosta. Kindergartener Saniyah Ward’s work was presented to Harry Belafonte, Howard Schultz received art created by Fifth-grader John Easley, Mayor Bloomberg received an artistic expression from 10-year-old Kevin Bosket, and Fifth-grader Kaitlynne Easley’s painting was presented to Kathryn Chenault.

Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III made a special presentation in celebration of Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning & Social Change’s 20th Anniversary.  Dariel Vasquez and Kamhali Scott, both Thurgood Marshall Academy students, spoke personally about the impact on their lives made possible by the support of ADC and the 2013 honorees.

The famed Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir sang a rousing rendition of “I Believe” as guests entered The Great Hall at Shepard Hall on the City College campus.

“How to improve the world is what all those we are honoring here today with the ADC Renaissance Award represent,” said Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III.  “They’re known as entertainers and business people, but their major concern is philanthropy—they all want to improve the human condition.  We thank them for their unwavering dedication to the children and families of Harlem, and for their partnership in the enrichment and strengthening of our community. As we continue to improve our public schools, we will continue to make sure that our young people have the ability to live an abundant life. “

“I want to thank Reverend Butts, the Abyssinian Development Corporation and the Abyssinian Baptist Church for their tremendous partnership over the past 12 years,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Some organizations and some people complain, and some people do something about making the world better. This is a role model for all of us about how to take the bull by the horns. Graduation rates are up by 39 percent since ’05, and our dropout rate has fallen by half to a new all-time low. There are few better examples of the great things happening in our schools than at ADC’s Thurgood Marshall Academy.”

“This day honoring ADC and what it does in the field of education for our children is a quantum leap from the circumstances that I grew up with in Harlem,” said Harry Belafonte.  “It is indeed good to know that responsible citizens have stepped up to the plate to make sure that many of our children, who have grown up disenfranchised and crudely dismissed from the pavements of opportunity, are being cared for through the programs we are celebrating today, and the institutions such as these led by Reverend Calvin Butts.  How rewarding it is to look out and see so many young people getting a foothold in life.” 

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