Congratulations to Mayor de Blasio & First Lady Chirlane McCray

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year.  I hope that 2014 will be filled with love, peace, joy, happiness and prosperity.  Brooklyn Legends proudly joins all New Yorkers, particularly the people of Brooklyn, in saluting our new Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, our First Lady Chirlane McCray.

We also salute our new Public Advocate Letitia James, a Brooklynite, and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Clearly, the road ahead will be filled with challenges.  However, as New Yorkers we are filled with hope and great expectation.  Our new leaders cannot win this battle alone.  Let’s all commit to standing with them and encouraging them along the way.

New York City is on the move and Brooklyn is “in the house”.  We are writing a new chapter in this history of our City.  Can you see the possibilities?  I believe that I can.

Have a wonderful day.

A New Year’s Tradition – Watch Night Service

Dear Readers,

A couple of days ago I shared with you some popular New Year‘s Eve celebrations that many will observe.  Today’s post will focus on Watch Night, a tradition that is deeply rooted in the history of people of African descent throughout the United States.

As a child growing up in Savannah, Georgia, I remember my grandparents would make their way to church every New Year’s Eve.  This was a solemn time for them.  Looking back on those days, I also remember how their voice would change as they recounted the painful stories their parents and grandparents shared.  I would also grow to appreciate how they were able to quiet their spirits whenever they heard the song “How I Got Over”.  When I look at my life, I have so much to be thankful for.  There has never been a day when I have not said I’m grateful!

The summary below is reprinted from the African-American Registry.  This site is a wonderful resource for African-American history and culture.  I am including the link to the site for your reference.

Date: Wed, 1862-12-31*
* On this date in 1862 the first Watch Night Services were celebrated in Black communities in America.

The Watch Night service can be traced back to gatherings also known as “Freedom’s Eve.”  On that night, Black slaves and free Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law.  At the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863; all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free.  When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as many people fell to their knees and thanked God.

The article goes on to explain that Blacks have gathered in churches annually on New Year’s Eve ever since, praising God for bringing us safely through another year.  It’s been over a century since the first Freedom’s Eve and tradition still brings us together at this time every year to celebrate “how we got over.”  This celebration takes many African-American descendants of slaves into a New Year with praise and worship.  The service usually begins anywhere from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and ends at midnight with the entrance of the New Year.  Some people come to church first, before going out to celebrate, for others, church is the only New Year’s Eve event.

There have been instances where clergy in mainline denominations questioned the propriety of linking religious services with a secular holiday like New Year’s Eve. However, there is a reason for the importance of New Year’s Eve services in the black experience in America.

Wishing you peace and joy in 2014!

________________________________

Reference:
The African-American Desk Reference, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc The New York Public Library John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Publishing

Thank You President Nelson Mandela

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dear Readers,

Brooklyn Legends joins the world in mourning the loss of President Nelson Mandela, who has been justly referred to as one of the world’s greatest sons!  It is heartwarming to read the tributes from around the world for there was a time when Nelson Mandela’s name was not always highly regarded in some circles — even here in the United States of America.

In the late 1980s, President Ronald Reagan placed President Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) on America’s official list of terrorist groups.  In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution that called for Mandela to be released from prison.

In 2004, after President Mandela criticized the war in Iraq, an article published in the National Review said “his (Mandela’s) vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no surprise, given the longstanding dedication to communism and praise for terrorists.”  As late as 2008, the ANC remained on America’s terrorism watch list.

Why is this so important to remember now?  For me the answer is simple, we should never forget that Nelson Mandela’s struggle continued long after he was released from prison.  We should watch as many will clamor to be a part of President Mandela’s funeral so that history can record their name.  We should never forget that the leaders of our own country did not always lend their voices in support of all that he was fighting to achieve for his people and his country.  How could they?  These were the same injustices that African-Americans were fighting against here in America.

Nothing was given to President Mandela.  He earned every accolade, every triumph and every reward that he received.

Thank you President Mandela for staying the course.  Rest in peace!