The Riverhead Central School District's 15th Annual Black History Month Celebration featured performances of dance, music and poetry spotlighting the contributions of Black Americans to arts and culture. The First Baptist Church Dance Ministry, led by Tara Archer, performed. Photo: Emil Breitenbach Jr.

The Riverhead Central School District’s 15th Annual Black History Month Celebration last night at Riverhead High School showcased an array of local talent from captivating dance and vocal performances, to compelling student artwork and words of inspiration from local school and community leaders.

The national theme of this year’s Black History Month commemoration is “African-Americans and the Arts,” honoring the rich history of Black Americans in the arts and the many and varied impacts Black Americans have had on music, visual arts, literature, film and culture.

Jarrell Gilliam of the Council for Unity spoke on this year’s national theme for the celebration of Black History Month.

First Baptist Church of Riverhead’s Dance Ministry, led by Tara Archer, performed “God of Miracles.” Other performers included The Butterfly Effect Project’s Precious Pearls and Elite Squad, the Pulaski Street Music Department’s rendition of the Jackson 5 classic “I’ll be There,” the Riverhead High School Jazz Ensemble, the Riverhead Middle School Jazz Band, and Mark McLaughlin singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Local poet and activist Robert “Bubbie” Brown performed his poem, “It’s Time,” a call to action to people of all races to cast aside stereotypes, to fulfill their potential as human beings and work together for a better world.

Jamaal Boyce, a Riverhead High School social studies teacher and author of the book “Teenage Perspectives on The Black Experience in America” was presented with the Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the Riverhead Administrators Association. The award acknowledges the recipient’s “hard work, strong leadership and commit to” Riverhead students. Boyce was also fêted by Assembly Member Jodi Giglio and the Riverhead Town Board with proclamations in his honor.

Brown presented certificates of recognition to two of the three winners of Pulaski Street School’s Garfield Langhorn Remembrance Essay Contest this school year, Cailyn Cadenhead and Luke Scherer. The contest, which will mark its 20th anniversary in the upcoming school year, is held in memory of PFC Garfield Langhorn, a 1967 Riverhead High School graduate killed in Vietnam in 1969 and is the recipient of the Medal of Honor for his heroic action that saved the lives of other soldiers who were injured in an enemy attack.

The keynote speaker for last night’s event was Joseph Bynum, the director of imaging services at Peconic Bay Medical Center, who shared the experiences he’s had in his career in hospital administration, and spoke of his passion for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

READ MORE: For this hospital administrator, DEI is more than a concept — it’s the story of his life’s journey, and he’s passionate about spreading the word

A Riverhead High School NJROTC Color Guard — Gabrielle Boffy, Matthew Andrzejewski, Quinn Stromski, Kaleb Gatto and Kaylee Mojo — presented the colors. Cheyanne Metzger sang the “Star Spangled Banner.” Riverhead High School’s culinary club provided food and refreshments at the reception. Alethia Ford emceed the event.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Emil Breitenbach Jr.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.

Avatar photo
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor and attorney. Her work has been recognized with numerous journalism awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She was also honored in 2020 with a NY State Senate Woman of Distinction Award for her trailblazing work in local online news. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.