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NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens Celebrates Annual Black History Month Event

The event featured Award-Winning Television Personality Cheryl Wills of NY 1 News as the programs keynote speaker

Reverend Dr. Phil Craig awarded 'African-American Achiever' for his community efforts in Queens

Feb 27, 2020

Queens, NY

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.


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