NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens today held its Annual Black History Month Celebration. The event featured special keynote speaker Cheryl Wills, the nationally recognized, award-winning television personality at NY1 News, where she has been since the station’s launch in 1992. Reverend Dr. Phil Craig of The Greater Springfield Community Church was recognized as this year’s recipient of the African American Achiever Award. This yearly event is an opportunity for the hospital to recognize the accomplishments of African-Americans in public life whose hard work, commitment, compassion, and determination serve as an inspiration to all people who value the American ideals of freedom and democracy.
The high point of the event was the keynote presentation by Cheryl Wills, one of NY1 News’ most recognizable journalists for breaking news and special coverage. Born and raised in New York City, Cheryl Wills has interviewed both The Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, as well as a sitting president, Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. These groundbreaking interviews earned her a prestigious Medal of Excellence from The United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA). She is also the renowned author of four books about her family’s legacy: “Die Free”; “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills”; “Emancipated: My Family’s Fight for Freedom”; and the newly released “Emma”, a picture book that promotes and encourages literacy in children. She has participated in book tours around the world, including Senegal, West Africa, where she presented her compelling story at the 2011 World Summit of Mayors before an audience of international politicians, dignitaries, and journalists.
Following the keynote address, Reverend Dr. Phil Craig was presented with this year’s African-American Achiever Award, an annual recognition given by NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens that celebrates the contributions of an individual who is making a meaningful difference in the lives of others and impacting the Queens community. As a known community activist and organizer, pastor and board member of several charitable community organizations, Dr. Craig possesses an outstanding record of community service, providing free food and clothing as well as offering the only Queens faith-based free dental program for members of his community.
Additional highlights of this year’s program include welcoming remarks by NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and Queens CEO Israel Rocha; an inspiring speech by Nina Lemons, Associate Director, Community Engagement Unit of MetroPlus Health Plan, one of the event’s sponsors; a vocal performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Sam Clarke; and an interactive rhythm, percussion and dance performance by Get Empowered! Unity-Arts, a national organization based in New York City with a mission to uplift, unify and empower children and diverse community members of all ages through multicultural arts-education, diversity-inclusion and mindfulness programs.
NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens also commemorated Black History Month with a “Popcorn Video Series” of educational and inspirational videos sponsored by MetroPlus Health Plan on every Friday throughout the month of February. This video series incorporated the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History’s 2020 theme of African Americans and The Vote, and culminated with a one-time showing of the critically acclaimed 2019 film “Harriet.” The timely theme was further emphasized by placing voter registration forms on tables with signage throughout high-trafficked areas of the hospital.
NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens’ Black History Month celebration was co-sponsored by MetroPlus Health Plan and the hospital’s Joint Labor-Management Committee, and coordinated by its Black History Month Planning Committee, an enthusiastic group of present and past staff members.
A member of NYC Health and Hospitals, NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens is a major health care provider in the borough of Queens. Its foremost mission is to provide quality, comprehensive care to all members of the public regardless of their ability to pay. The year 2015 marked its 80th anniversary of serving the communities of central and southeastern Queens, having first opened its doors as Queens General Hospital in 1935. Encompassing 360,000 square feet, it comprises 253 licensed beds, spacious ambulatory care suites featuring both primary and specialty services, and cutting-edge equipment. It also houses four Centers of Excellence: Cancer Care, Diabetes Management, Women’s Health, and Behavioral Health. To learn more about NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens, visit http://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/queens.
About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation. We are a network of 11 hospitals, trauma centers, neighborhood health centers, nursing homes, and post-acute care centers. We are a home care agency and a health plan, MetroPlus. Our health system provides essential services to more than one million New Yorkers every year in more than 70 locations across the city’s five boroughs. Our diverse workforce of more than 42,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. Visit us at www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or Twitter at @NYCHealthSystem.