Schenectady

Schenectady City Council recognizes Black History Month, Black medical practitioners

The City Council on Monday approved a ceremonial resolution recognizing Black History Month and Black medical practitioners. From left, Councilman Carl Williams, Patrick Jean Pierre, Donna Stevens, Nancy Gary, Lois Mitchell, Keara Sease and Councilman Damonni Farley.
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The City Council on Monday approved a ceremonial resolution recognizing Black History Month and Black medical practitioners. From left, Councilman Carl Williams, Patrick Jean Pierre, Donna Stevens, Nancy Gary, Lois Mitchell, Keara Sease and Councilman Damonni Farley.

SCHENECTADY — Days before the start of Black History Month, the City Council on Monday paused briefly to recognize the accomplishments of several Black medical professionals. 

Council members unanimously approved a ceremonial resolution recognizing Black History Month, which carries a theme of Black health and wellness this year, recognizing the contributions and accomplishments of Black medical practitioners.

“As we think about Black History Month and we appreciate the historic contributions by Black people in this country and this world, it’s very important that we recognize and understand and appreciate the material conditions of Black people as they are right now,” said Councilman Damonni Farley, who presented the resolution alongside Councilman Carl Williams.

Farley pointed to recent efforts to pass voting reform measures in Congress — including the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, that would restore portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — that failed after being blocked by Senate Republicans earlier this month.

He also addressed the civil unrest seen in parts of the country in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man killed while in police custody, and said while much of the momentum seems to have faded in the year since, there is still work to be done to ensure a just society for all.

“Now is the time that we as a governing body must make sure we are making decisions that are based in equity, that are based in anti-racism, and uphold those values, not just in our words, but in our actions,” Farley said.

Five medical practitioners, including nurses and mental health professionals, were recognized for their contributions to the medical field.

The resolution was passed as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately impact Black and brown communities across the country.

While white people make up the largest percentage of total infections and deaths, Hispanic and Black communities have been impacted at rates higher than their percentage of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Members from the Hispanic and Black communities are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19 than those who are white, according to the CDC.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought social and racial injustice and inequity to the forefront of public health,” a health equity assessment compiled by the agency reads. “It has highlighted that health equity is still not a reality as COVID-19 has unequally affected many racial and ethnic minority groups, putting them more at risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.”

The agency attributes the disparities to income levels, access to education and disparities in the nation’s health care system. 

The disparities weren’t lost on Lois Mitchell, recognized for her 54 years as a registered nurse, who said the city has the ability to address the disparities moving forward and must work to do so.

“This pandemic has made it very, very clear that brown and Black communities have suffered profoundly during this terrible time, and it needs to stop,” she said. “We here in the city of Schenectady can put a stop to it.”

Others recognized include: Nancy Gary, Donna Stevens, Patrick Jean Pierre and Keara Sease.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.  

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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