Celebrating The Ones Who Helped Build Today

by Stacy Johnson
photos by Sherell Jenkins

On Monday, September 24, 2001, a ceremony was held at Jackie Robinson Park in celebration of Harlem’s seniors citizens.

The goal of this event was to pay respect to those elders whose daily diligence has helped to preserve the character of the Harlem community. Many of the senior citizens who attended the ceremony have been living in Harlem for decades.

This event also hoped to increase senior citizens’ voting participation, which over the years, have been mediocre.

Senior citizens’ make up a large percent of the Harlem population, and with the increase in insurance and medication fees, more senior citizens need to have an active role in the selection of the city representatives.

Jackie Beavers, a member of the WMMCC incorporated on 152nd street said one reason why the event may have been scheduled for this years, was because more focus needed to be placed on senior voting. “I hope more seniors will be involved,” said Beavers.

This event had a live band and was host to guests such as City Council Candidates

Mario A. Torres and Jackie Ro-Adams of District 7, who were doing some final campaigning, hoping to gain the support of as many senior citizens as possible, before the voting on City Council later this week.

When asked about the event, Torres said, it is “our way of paying tribute to seniors who have lived in Harlem for many years.”

He went on to say that Harlem will grow in the future and this event will also “expand in the future.”

Ro-Adams, who is also the manager for Recreation at Jacki Robinson Park, said “yes”, she would love to have it again next year, because it “gives seniors new life.”

Sponsors of this event included Emp. Zone, Community Board 9, Yankee Stadium, which donated the many roses, 153rd Street Block Association, and D.E.E.L. communication, who coordinated the event.

While many thought this a wonderful idea, some felt the event was not publicized enough. Only a handful of Harlem seniors attended this event, which will make it interesting to see the senior citizen turnout at the polls later this week.

Barbara Britt, one of the members of the Tapping Seniors, a dance group run by Ludy Jones, said she was disappointed there was “not enough publicity.” She went on to say that other seniors centers should have participated. This first annual celebration of seniors will most likely continue in the future and hopefully expand.