Black History Month Event Honors Six in Waterbury

To honor six African-American "trailblazers" in her congressional district during Black History Month, State Rep. Elizabeth Esty, of Cheshire, organized an afternoon of song and dance and speeches in Waterbury.

"African-American history is our nation's history," she told the audience, "and if we forget that, we forget that at our peril."

Esty recognized state Treasurer Denise Nappier, Waterbury police Chief Vernon Riddick, the late ESPN personality, Stuart Scott; and three figures from New Britain.

One of them, 93-year-old Alton Brooks, is the grandson of a slave.

"I have just wanted to love my neighbor as myself," said the veteran, of the 1963 March on Washington, "and I want to do unto others as they would do unto me."

Brooks invoked a theme of the afternoon, saying he stood on the shoulders of giants.

"And I'm glad that my shoulders are big, for somebody to stand on," said another honoree, Emma Pierce, a former union organizer. "I stood on my mother's. Now somebody is going to be able to stand on mine."

The principal of New Britain High School, David Chandler, told the crowd he tries to spread good around.

"That will be just like planting some of my brain in some of these brains I'm working with," he said. "Hopefully we can grow it and make it into the type of school, community, and country that we all aspire to have."

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