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City Council holds a celebration of Black labor workers

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City Council

This year’s Black History Month Celebration, hosted by Council President Janey and Councilors Campbell, Edwards, and Mejia, was a celebration of Black labor workers in the City of Boston.

Audience members from different neighborhoods throughout the City received star-studded performances from some of Boston’s best artists, including Denzel Scarlett, a trumpet player, Ray Greene, who sang “How I Got Over”, and OrigiNation who recited poems and performed a liturgical dance.

Councilor Mejia honored Officer Kenneth Grubbs, known to many as the officer who drives a police van turned ice cream truck, handing out goodies to children in some of Boston’s most troubled neighborhoods as a way to break down walls between police and the community.  A 34-year veteran of the Boston Police Department (BPD), Officer Grubbs requested and was reassigned to District B-2 (Roxbury, Mission Hill area) as a Youth Service Officer. During his assignment as a Youth Service Officer, he provided workshops and programs on Gang and Drug Abuse Awareness and Prevention to thousands of youth throughout the City of Boston in a 20-year period of his career. Today, Officer Grubbs uses his experience and his passion to continue helping and making Boston the best City in the country for the youth and for all who reside and visit this great City.

Councilor Campbell honored Stephanie Dennis, a lifelong resident of Dorchester. Dennis is a single parent and currently a Personal Care Attendant (PCA). She became involved with 1199SEIU as a PCA leader. She is a member of her ward Democratic committee, the African American Caucus (AFRAM), Women in Leadership Development (WILD) and the Poor People's Campaign (PPC). Dennis is a proud advocate for PCAs, especially in the Codman square neighborhood of Dorchester. Most PCAs are women of color and caretakers for family members, which is why she wants to make a difference for PCAs by educating them on the tools they have available to achieve the status of a medical professional.

Councilor Edwards honored Dalida Roche, a mother of three, UMASS Boston Alumni, and proud Cape Verde immigrant and resident of Dorchester. Roche moved to Dorchester with her family as a teenager. She quickly developed an after school radio program that is still in existence today as a response to a rise in youth violence among girls in Dorchester. In 2018, after serving as the Political Coordinator of SEIU 32BJ for a year, Roche was appointed Political Director at the New England District of SEIU 32BJ, the largest property service workers union in the nation, with 163,000 members up and down the East Coast. Roche moved into the position of Political Director where she continues to work with numerous community groups and leaders to support various worker campaigns for higher wages, benefits and respect on the job.

Councilor Janey honored Carol Drayton-Moruzzi of Dorchester, the first woman of color in the history of the Pipefitters Union Local 537 to earn a HVAC license in the state of Massachusetts. Drayton received acceptance letters from various unions; however, she selected Local 537’s HVAC apprentice program, because of the vast professional skills she acquired through the licensing training. Drayton-Moruzzi gave back by volunteering to union blood drives, HVAC/Pipefitter trade shows, fundraisers and more.

Kenell Broomstein was the Keynote Speaker of the event. Broomstein is a licensed electrician and became the first woman of color to ascend to the role of Business Agent in a Boston construction industry union. In her role as a Business Agent of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, Broomstein advocates for good union jobs in the community, organizes new members and takes a lead role in mobilizing the membership for a variety of political and community initiatives. Notably, she spearheaded Local 103's endorsement campaign of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Broomstein has built her career fighting for working families, women and people of color. She is a role model within the union and in the Greater Boston community. She continues to develop her craft and strives to be a leader and positive role model for trades workers’ and women’s rights. Broomstein is the proud mother of two sons.

After the event, Councilors, honorees, performers, attendees and staff gathered together for a special Black History Month luncheon provided by Slades, located in Roxbury, along with Down Home Delivery and Juice and Jazz, both located in Dorchester.