2021 Trailblazers Awards Ceremony

Deputy Westchester County Executive Ken Jenkins introducing the program at the Jay Heritage Center

History guides our path forward. That is the meaning behind the sankofa symbol. According to www.sankofa.org this image “used by the Akan people of Ghana, generally depicted as a bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back. It expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress.” It is also the symbol used by Westchester County’s Trailblazers Awards ceremony held at JHC each year.

It was our privilege to host this event for the 8th year in a row (though this is the first time virtually). A highlight of this year’s Black History Month was definitely the Westchester County Trailblazers Awards held on February 25. This gathering heralds the accomplishments of outstanding African American women and men in business, healthcare, philanthropy, the arts, history and civic engagement. Because of Covid, it took place virtually but a few participants still came to Jay Estate. Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins was a terrific Master of Ceremonies and Hon. County Executive George Latimer welcomed the audience. Samara Joy McLendon amazed all with her rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard
Deputy Westchester County Executive Ken Jenkins introduces Dr. Larry Spruill

African American Advisory Board Chair Barbara Edwards shared the meaningful purpose of the event after which Westchester Historical Society Sy Schulman Historian Dr. Larry Spruill delivered a moving presentation about Westchester County’s African American Heritage Trail – its origins and why it still needs to be expanded. Currently there are 14 sites on the trail. Board of Legislators Chairman Ben Boykin echoed the importance of recognizing black contributions to society. JHC President Suzanne Clary emphasized partnerships with groups like the African American History in Westchester 400 Committee, the African American Men of Westchester, the American Women of African Heritage (AWAH) and Friends of the African American Cemetery in Rye.

Congratulations to Westchester County’s 2021 Trailblazers! And many thanks to professional photographer Kim Crichlow for capturing this year’s historic events on film. The Health & Human Services “Dr. Valiere Alcena Award” was given to Dr. Glenn A. Davis; the Leadership “Hon. Ronald A. Blackwood Award” was given to Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard; the Civic Engagement “Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award” was given to Olney Reynolds. Last but not least, a Special Recognition to All African American Front Line Workers “Esprit de Corps Award” was accepted by Philip O. Ozuah, MD, PhD. Watch the full ceremony here 

Read about past celebrations here:

Photos by Kim Crichlow

Trailblazer awards

JHC’s 2020 Photography Exhibit created in partnership with the Friends of the African American Cemetery in Rye and the African American History in Westchester 400th Commemoration Committee was a powerful backdrop to the ceremony

Honoree Olney Reynolds, Suzanne Clary, Honoree Glenn Davis and Deputy Westchester County Executive Ken Jenkins
Honoree Olney Reynolds and his wife
Honoree Olney Reynolds, Deputy Westchester County Executive Ken Jenkins and Honoree Dr. Glenn A. Glenn Davis


Honoree Olney Reynolds
Per Covid restrictions, Westchester County filmed the program at the Jay Heritage Center in an open well-ventilated space.