In recognition of National Black History Month 2024, Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn has honored “the incredible contributions and cultural impact of Black people who have shaped our nation for the better — and those who continue to do so.”
“Black History is also marked by the atrocious actions taken against us — and molded by our communities and heroes overcoming immense adversity through triumph,” said Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“As we honor the past, we must advance our continued efforts to ensure equality and overcome hatred,” she added. “The Brooklyn Democratic Party celebrates the pioneering contributions of those who paved a trail before us as a driving force in our fight for a fairer future.”
Bichotte Hermelyn said the Brooklyn Democratic Party honors the late Dr. John Louis Flateau, “a lifelong public servant, community activist, political strategist and a dedicated mentor.”
Serving as a professor and administrator at Brooklyn’s predominantly Black Medgar Evers College, as well as a districting commissioner for the city and state, Dr. Flateau died in late December.
A founding member of Brooklyn’s Vanguard Independent Democratic Club (VIDA), Bichotte Hermelyn said Dr. Flateau was “known by our party members as a brilliant mind and strategist who helped shape Brooklyn’s political landscape.
“Dr. Flateau will be greatly missed and his legacy will be felt for generations,” she said.
Stating that New York and Brooklyn have always been at the center of the fight for justice and equality, Bichotte Hermelyn said Weeksville, Brooklyn, was home to one of the first free Black communities in the United States.
“We’re also home to the African Burial Ground, the first national monument dedicated to Africans and African-Americans of New York’s earliest days, which can still be visited today,” she said.
The assemblywoman said New Yorkers like the late Shirley Chisholm – a native Brooklynite and daughter of Barbadian and Guyanese immigrants, who served in the state Assembly — became the first African-American woman to serve in the US Congress and later became the first female and first Black major-party candidate for president.
She said Chisholm “showed and still inspire that greatness can be achieved, despite the barriers that exist.”
Bichotte Hermelyn said Judge Rowan D. Wilson became, in April last year, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York, New York’s highest court.
“A trailblazer, dedicated public servant, and champion for justice, Hon. Wilson is now the New York State’s first Black chief judge,” she said. “Judge Wilson has been a high-achieving pioneer his entire career, including becoming the first Black partner at the prestigious law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
“Hon. Rowan D. Wilson has a longstanding track record of fair, prudent and impartial judicial rulings in the Appellate Court that have uplifted New Yorkers while upholding our Democratic values,” she added.
Bichotte Hermelyn said the Brooklyn Democratic Party is “proud to continue to help increase Black Brooklynites’ political representation, including many Black pioneers, at almost every office in the city, state and federal level.”
She noted that some of today’s political pioneers who call Brooklyn home include: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who is the first Black leader of a political party in Congress; New York State Attorney General Letitia James, the first Black person and woman to hold the role; and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, the city’s second Black Mayor, who also was Brooklyn’s first Black Borough President. The late David Dinkins was New York City’s first Black mayor.
“There are countless other Black Brooklynites who continue to break barriers, while uplifting and inspiring our party and borough,” Bichotte Hermelyn said. “This month, and every day, we honor them.”
This year’s theme for Black History Month is “African Americans and the Arts” — “honoring the myriad impacts Black Americans have had on visual arts, music, cultural movements, and more,” Bichotte Hermelyn said.