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April 29, 2010

Young Journalists in Training Celebrate 5th Year With Honors for Mayor David N. Dinkins, Basil A. Paterson

The storied Gang of Four that held sway in Harlem politics and produced New York City’s first African-American mayor had a reunion of sorts April 29 at St. Francis College to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Andrew W. Cooper Young Journalists In Training Program.

In a ceremony emceed by New York Daily News Editorial Writer and WWRL 1600 Radio Host Errol Lewis, Former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins and The Honorable Basil A. Paterson were honored with the 2010 Speak Truth To Power Award. Keisha Sutton-James, the granddaughter of Percy Sutton also received the award in tribute to her grandfather. (Watch the YJIT Event)

Errol Lewis, who has been involved with the Young Journalists Program for several years talked about his time working for Andrew Cooper’s newspaper, The City Sun, pointing to fellow alumni of the paper who now work at The New York Times and New York 1. He predicted that the students in YJIT will also spread out and succeed in a variety of places. Some of the students in the program talked about their internships in the media and also introduced the honorees at the event.

Mayor Dinkins spoke about his long, respectful but not always amicable relationship with the Cooper family. He went into some of the history of his fellow honorees, talking about how Percy Sutton paved the way for Dinkins’ own run for mayor by running a groundbreaking candidacy for the position a decade earlier. He also talked about the amazing accomplishments of Basil Paterson, becoming the first African-American New York Secretary of State and also his position under Mayor Ed Koch as New York City Deputy Mayor. On receiving his award, Dinkins commented, “I am delighted to receive some recognition, frankly, for doing what we’re supposed to do in the first place.”

Basil Paterson talked about the difference between being fearless and courageous. He said that the people over the course of history who spoke truth to power weren’t necessarily fearless but they knew what they had to do and despite their fear, they spoke out. That made them courageous. Paterson talked about the lawsuit that Cooper brought, Cooper v. Power, which ended the gerrymandering of districts in Brooklyn and led to Shirley Chisholm becoming the first African-American woman in Congress. “The difficulty of speaking truth to power; the price you pay for doing it, that’s a price you have to be willing to pay. Because if you don’t pay it, you’re not going to be the person God put you on this earth to be.”

Keisha Sutton-James spoke about the lessons she learned from watching her grandfather and the Gang of Four from up close over the years, “I learned the power of being together, focused on your mission and surrounding oneself with people who are like minded who are just as ambitious and focused on the same things that you are and what you can do if you create those bonds and focus on what you want and what you need and what you see for your people.”

Also in attendance were former Brooklyn Borough President Harold Golden and Dr. Roscoe Brown, a member of the Tuskegee Airman and the first member of his group to shoot down an enemy plane.

Dedicated to the Founder and Publisher of "The City Sun" Newspaper, YJIT, coordinated by Cooper’s daughter, Andrea Andrews provides students with an opportunity to explore the world of journalism and consider it as a career. The program provides firsthand exposure to the craft through lectures presented by experts in media as well as internships in New York City. St. Francis College students have interned at places like WABC-TV, WCBS-TV, CBS Radio and The Daily News.

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City’s five boroughs and beyond.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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