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City of Rochester

News Release - Living the Dream Paying It Forward

Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County

News Release

Living the Dream Paying It Forward


(Rochester, NY, February 24, 2012) -- The Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County celebrates Black History Month with the exhibit, “Living the Dream, Paying It Forward” on display now through March 2. A public reception will be held on Sunday, Feb. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Central Library Lower Link Gallery, 115 South Ave.

“Living the Dream, Paying it Forward” is a library employee’s tribute to local African-Americans who have benefited from the sacrifices and hard choices made by others and are paying it forward by giving back to the community, investing in youth and living productive lives.

Honorees chose careers that gives back to the community, such as a police officer, a firefighter, a soldier, a minister, an educator and many others. Their jobs are as unique as the people. Each person has found his or her own way to Pay it Forward. From gang interventions to radio personality, nurse to co-founder of Monroe Community College the message is always the same “Yes, you can.” So please join the library as we honor Black History Month, Rochester style.

The exhibit’s creator, library employee Anita Wahl, described what inspired her to create the display. “I created my first display when I worked in the Local History division (this is my second display for Black History month). It seemed that everyone always recognized Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King Jr. I wanted this display to be more personal to Rochester and more contemporary. I decided to recognize local people who make a difference every day. Their actions ripple through our community to make Rochester a better place to live. Dr. King’s powerful “I have a dream speech” was a natural fit for the concept I was trying to relay. Then it hit me, the people I wanted to honor were living the dream and they were paying it forward. Their success helps other people break down barriers and fight for equality and they are encouraging the next generation to reach for the stars.”

The citizens honored in this year’s display include:
Jackie Campbell – Assistant Commissioner, City of Rochester Department of Recreation and Youth Services Petty Officer 1st Class Bryant Carter –Recruiter for the U.S. military Tassie Demps – Director, City of Rochester Bureau of Human Resource Management Alice Holloway-Young – Educator, helped establish Monroe Community College Ruby Mae Jefferson – Nurse, Library volunteer. When Ms. Jefferson passed away she donated money so that young children could continue to have free books.
Hon. Teresa Johnson – Rochester City Court Judge Hon. William Johnson Jr. – Former Rochester Mayor, R.I.T. professor Marsha Jones – Author, columnist Deputy Fire Chief George Peterson – City of Rochester Fire Department Deputy Mayor Leonard Redon – Deputy Mayor, City of Rochester Officer Moses Robinson – Police Officer, School Resource Officer Police Chief James Sheppard – Rochester Police Department Tariq Spence – Radio personality

In addition to this display, a mini-display on the Underground Railroad, features houses in the Rochester area that were part of the Underground Railroad.

A satellite display of “Living the Dream Paying It Forward” can also be seen in the Public Safety Building Lobby, 185 Exchange Blvd. Police Chief James Sheppard was so taken with the Library display he asked Ms. Wahl and the Central Library Exhibit Team to recreate one for the Public Safety Building. The following are Chief Sheppard’s honorees:
Ursula Burns – CEO Xerox
Taye Diggs – Actor, Author
Frederick Douglass – Editor, Activist
Trent Jackson – Olympian, Professional Football player, coach Andrew Langston – Businessman, Radio pioneer Janet Lomax – News anchorwoman

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