Change Makers: Historic clubs and organizations, gatekeepers in the Black community

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 11:55 AM EST
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(WBNG) -- February is Black History Month and all month long, WBNG will be highlighting “change makers” from the Southern Tier.

This week, 12 News will highlight not a specific person or couple, but rather an upcoming Black History Month event focused on clubs and organizations within the community.

Brenda Brown, who has been hosting an educational event during Black History Month in Broome County for decades, said she first became interested in Black History in the 1960s, inspired by pioneers like Dorothy Height, a civil and women’s rights activist.

“It’s one of those things I’m so comfortable with,” said Brown. “But it was those women who said Black History, ‘we have to do it, we have to do it.’”

This year’s event is titled, “Historic Clubs & Organizations: Gatekeepers in the Black Community.”

Through the years, Brown said she has seen what she describes as a loss of community and connection, whether that be in church, in the media, or in organizations.

“If we’ve had those losses, what do we have to do to preserve what we have?” said Brown.

That is what this year’s event is all about, highlighting the importance of these organizations and institutions right here in the Southern Tier. They will do this through presentations and guest speakers who will share their personal experiences.

One of those guest speakers is Sandra Love, a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She joined in college as a way to serve the community while celebrating her faith, becoming part of a family when away from her own.

“The sisterhood part grew each year until the point now that I’m here, I’m still involved and the thing about our sorority is that it’s a lifetime membership,” said Love. “Wherever you go, as a Delta, you can get support.”


Another guest speaker, Diane Ramnarine-Singh, is a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, an auxiliary of the Masonic Order, a group she said is focused on making a positive difference in the world.

“In faith, charity, service, and love and kindness and as a result we want to be able to help people that are in need,” said Ramnarine-Singh. “We would do different things like feed the homeless and give shelter when we can, create a network throughout the United States and abroad where a Mason or Eastern Star can go wherever and if they are in need, they could seek help and get some help.”

During the event, she will also speak about historically Black colleges and universities.

“The history of it, and the importance of them in the community,” said Ramnarine-Singh. “They exist, they still need to exist in my mind and as a result hopefully that will encourage others to get involved and get away from the propaganda of ‘this is inferior to or this is segregation.’”

It is that theme of education and a desire for involvement they want to instill in those who attend.

“You don’t come looking for things to be established, you have to make those things happen,” said Brown, “So, we have to connect with younger people to get them more involved in some of our organizations.”

They hope to illustrate while times might change, many of these groups point to the heart of any community.

“I think that we need to realize that even though youth are getting away from the church and they’re getting away from community organizations they need to open up and understand this is part of their background,” said Ramnarine-Singh. “This is part of their parents’ background, their grandparents’ background, and it goes back and to keep them alive is important because this is part of who we are.”

American History Through the Eyes of African Americans: Historic Clubs & Organizations: Gatekeepers in the Black Community will take place Feb. 18 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. via Zoom. Meeting ID: 657 560 1478 Passcode: RAJ1


To read last week’s Change Maker piece on Claude and Beccye Fawcett click here.