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Islamic Center Celebrates Black History Month

February marks Black History Month, four weeks dedicated to celebrating achievements of African Americans. 


In commemoration, the Islamic Center of Long Island held its 11th annual Black History Month celebration on Saturday, Feb. 1. The theme of the event was “Keeping the Dream Alive.”


The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. Rev. Calvin O. Butts, III.  He is president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, as well as pastor of the nationally renowned Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.


Butts spoke about “keeping the dream alive” and what that phrase really meant.


 “First of all, what is ‘the dream?’” he asked. “We use these terms so easily, but we rarely take the time to unpack and see what they mean.”


Butts brought up the topic of equality and how God wants us to see each other as the same. 


“I have to see the shade of your skin, I can’t help that,” he said. “Thank God for eyesight. I know who is black and who is white, but I don’t see you as any better than me or any less than me because of it.”


One of the walls in the Islamic Center was covered with three large posters listing the names of famous black inventors.  The posters listed 25 inventors, including John Christian, who invented and patented new lubricants used in high flying aircraft and NASA space missions, and Philip Emeagwali, the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize winner for developing the fastest supercomputer software in the world.


Several Nassau County Legislators were also present at the Black History Month celebration. A few legislators gave brief speeches, including Kevan Abrahams, Carrié Solages and Laura Schaefer, who represents Westbury and Carle Place. 


Town of Hempstead Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad spoke to the audience as a Muslim American.


“For me, color doesn’t matter,” said Ahmad. “The most important thing is that we are human beings.”


As an immigrant, a mother of three, and without any formal education, Ahmad remarked on how in America, she is still able to run for a public office. “The American dream is alive and well and I’m living proof of it,” she said.


After the event, there was South Asian, Indian and Pakistani food made by members of the community, as well as refreshments available for those who were in attendance. 


Westbury High School students are teaching younger children from Park Avenue Elementary School valuable life lessons about money and business skills through the High School Heroes program.


In this program, high school students that are taking Renate Johnson’s Junior Achievement class will go into first grade classrooms to teach 45-minute lessons.


“It is a program that gives high school and younger students confidence and teaches them about business and financial literacy,” said Johnson.

The Westbury Historical Society will host Dr. Natalie Naylor, professor emerita at Hofstra University and author of Women in Long Island’s Past: Eminent Ladies and Everyday Lives at their next meeting on March 9. 


Naylor’s presentation will focus on the place of women in Long Island’s history, including several prominent women from Westbury’s past.  


Albertson resident and Kellenberg sophomore Gabby Schreib qualified for the Millrose Games in New York City. Schreib qualified as a member of the Sprint Medley Relay along with Danielle Correia, Bridget McNierney, and Jazmine Fray. 


The Kellenberg relay’s close second place finish in January’s Millrose Trials has moved them closer to defending the title they won in the same relay at last year’s Millrose Games. Schreib and her teammates time is currently second in the United States for girls track and field performances.

Congratulations to Westbury athletes Michael Esposito, Eileen Harris, Brett Harris, and Michael Going, each of whom won awards in Race # 1 of the Jonas Chiropractic Run Nassau Series co-hosted by Nassau County and the Greater Long Island Running Club.


Michael Esposito, age 15, took home the second place award in the 15-19 age group with a time of 23 minutes, 6 seconds.  Eileen Harris, age 42, earned the first place award in the women’s 40-44 age group.  She completed the race with her 45 year old husband, Brett Harris, who was the third place award winner in the men’s 45-49 age group.  Michael Going, age 41, scored third place honors in the 40-44 age group with a time of 20 minutes, 51 seconds.


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