Highlights from ERASE Racism's 2014 Annual Benefit
Wednesday, June 4th marked ERASE Racism's celebratory acknowledgment for the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The recipients of the Corporate Leadership Award and the honorees of the Abraham Krasnoff Courage & Commitment Award remarked how privileged they were to be recognized.
Henry Schein's John Eliot Simpkins said that they are "deeply committed to acting as stewards...closing the gap for quality healthcare to underserved populations..."
Eric Bluestone, Partner in The Bluestone Organization highlighted that for three generations they have made it their priority to provide affordable, mixed-income housing and economic development opportunities through sustainable and environmentally conscious development.
Vincent Southerland, Senior Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. drew parallels between their organization, ERASE Racism, and the other Abraham Krasnoff Courage and Commitment Award honorees by pointing out that "we [all] work in fair housing, education, and public health... to achieve racial justice and equality by forcing America to live up to the constitutional promises made by its founders."
Craig Gurian, Executive Director for The Anti-Discrimination Centerspoke about the "radical change" in how the word community is used today as opposed to decades ago when it was a more inclusive term. He gave a call to action for corporations and organizations to cease and desist from being "too cautious, risk-averse, or focused on maintaining their own place" and instead to be "fierce" and courageous as they embrace a "true movement to integrate humbleness... and sharing into [their] politics and interactions."
Barbara R. Arnwine, President and Executive Director for The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law gave an spirited speech in which she reminded the audience that in addition to it being the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights act of 1964, it is also the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. She underscored the importance of paying homage to those who sacrificed their blood, sweat and tears such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, James Earl Chaney, Michael "Mickey" Schwerner because they "made all these laws possible." Ms. Arnwine remarked upon the extraordinary accomplishments of the ERASE Racism Legal Action Fund. In highlighting an array of local fair housing lawsuits, she cited the protracted housing discrimination case filed against the Village of Garden City. Ms. Arnwine recognized the tireless efforts of the plaintiffs' litigation team in MHANY Management Inc., et al. v. Garden City to secure affordable housing in a non-discriminatory manner. By reflecting upon the favorable outcome of the Garden City decision, Ms. Arnwine noted that such findings were, "a rarity in the decision in defining that Garden City had intentionally [sic] discriminated."
Elaine Gross, President and Founder of ERASE Racism inspired the crowd as she drew attention to the fact that "when measuring black/white residential segregation for the Nassau/Suffolk County region, as measured by the U.S. Census data, Long Island ranks in the top ten most racially segregated regions in the country." She pointed out that "on Long Island we are more segregated by race than by income" as shown in research by Brown University Professor John Logan. Ms. Gross mentioned that "affluent blacks live in neighborhoods with just as little contact with whites as very low income black households... Furthermore, blacks and Latinos are typically segregated in the same high need, low-performing schools because of the severe housing segregation on Long Island..." She indicated that if anyone in the audience desired to get involved with the work that ERASE Racism is doing in education they could participate in the Education Equity Project and/or the fair housing initiative by signing up to join the Partnership for Racial Equity; and if there is any interest in working at ERASE Racism there is a job opportunity as the Full Time Long Island Organizer. She ended her speech with inspirational words urging the listener to understand that "It's not okay to deny black and brown families housing choice; it's not okay to provide affordable housing for black and brown families only in communities with concentrated poverty, very high need and low performing schools; and it's not okay to maintain racially segregated schools."
ERASE Racism Board of Directors Co-Chair Scott Williams echoed the urgency of taking action to stop racial discrimination on Long Island. He explained how ERASE Racism's Legal Action Fund is making a difference.
The staff of ERASE Racism, the volunteers and the partners all showed their support by donating their time, their money and the wonderful gift baskets, which created a beautiful Silent Auction.
Abraham Krasnoff Courage and Commitment Award HonoreesFor their outstanding advocacy in advancing civil rights and the rule of the law.
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Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
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NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
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About the Abraham Krasnoff Courage and Commitment Award
The Abraham Krasnoff Courage and Commitment Award was established in June 2006 in honor of its first recipient, a founding board member and generous contributor to ERASE Racism, Abraham Krasnoff. The award recognized Abe’s bold leadership, wise counsel, generosity and steadfast commitment to addressing institutional racism.
Abe was well known for his professional achievement as Chairman of the Pall Corporation, for his philanthropy, and for his many civic and community activities. With his death in February 2007, Long Island lost a great leader.
ERASE Racism selects recipients for the Abraham Krasnoff Courage and Commitment Award who share ERASE Racism’s zeal for racial equity and who, in the spirit of Abe Krasnoff, are making a difference in the fight against racism.
Corporate Leadership Award Recipient
The Bluestone Organization
Eric Bluestone, Steven Bluestone, Sara B. Herbstman, Ira Lichtiger and Thomas Potvin, Partners
Honored for increasing affordable housing on Long Island
Henry Schein, Inc.
Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and CEO
Honored for its commitment to the underserved through access to health care and opportunity
Planning CommitteeConnie Lassandro, Co-Chair
Wilma Holmes Tootle, Co-Chair
V. Elaine Gross
Joan R. Saltzman