Heroes of their choosing
Over the decades, Carter G. Woodson's Black History Week has grown, shifted and morphed into Black History Month. The commemorative and instructional observance remains an essential aspect of American culture for many. Carving out time to salute black history is important to 10 Long Islanders we spoke to, who include a barber, fifth-grader, imam and physician.
Justice Michele Woodard, from Westbury, in her courtroom in Mineola. Woodward said her hero is Judge Jane Matilda Bolin, the first black female judge of New York State who held the position in the Domestic Court of New York. (Jan. 27, 2012)
Judge Jane Matilda Bolin, shown at her home in New York, NY after she was sworn in as a family court judge on July 22, 1939, became the nation's first black female judge and the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School.
Joan Hodges of Hempstead is a quilter and her personal hero is Harriet Tubman, a runaway slave who freed other slaves using the Underground Railway. (Jan. 24, 2012)
Harriet Tubman, abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy, sits for a full-length portrait, probably at her home in Auburn, N.Y., circa 1911.
Al-Amin Abdul Latif is the imam at Masjid Allahu Akbar in Wyandanch who, on occasion, gives services at the Islamic Center of Long Island. His hero is Prophet Muhammad, whom he considers the right role model for all of mankind. (Jan. 27, 2012)
African-American historian and author Carter G. Woodson in an undated photograph. Woodson struggled to record the story of black achievements at a time when most African-Americans weren't even allowed to vote. In 1926, he originated the celebration of Black History Week and is the author of 16 books about African-Americans.
Dr. Aubrey Lewis, a cardiologist and internist in Merrick who runs a free clinic in Hempstead, said his hero is Nelson Mandela, the South African leader who made selfless sacrifices for his people, community, country and freedom. (Jan. 24, 2012)
Timur Davis, director of Wyandanch Public Library, said John Henrik Clarke, a historian and professor who was a pioneer of Africana studies and professional institutions in academia starting in the late 1960s, is his personal hero. (Jan. 20, 2012)
John Henrik Clarke was a writer, historian, professor and a pioneer of Africana studies. A professor of African World History, he was founding chairman in 1969 of the Department of Black and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College at the City University of New York. He also was the Carter G. Woodson Distinguished Visiting Professor of African History at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. In 1968, along with the Black Caucus of the African Studies Association, Clarke founded the African Heritage Studies Association. (Circa 1988)
Coach Rob Blount at Oceanside High School said Jackie Robinson is his hero for breaking the color barrier in baseball. (Feb. 13, 2012)
Darah Smith, owner of TaxSmith, an income tax preparation and financial services firm in Freeport, holds Sarah E. Goode, the first African-American woman to receive a patent, as her hero. (Feb. 13, 2012)
Leon Broughton, also known as Levar, is the owner of Trimz Barber Shop in Freeport. His personal hero is Madam C.J. Walker, millionaire CEO and hair products manufacturer/seller. (Jan. 25, 2012)
MadamC.J. Walker was an African-American businesswoman, hair care entrepreneur and philanthropist who made her fortune by developing and marketing a hugely successful line of beauty and hair products for black women. (Circa 1914)