NSJA hosts Black Excellence Ceremony

The North Shore Juneteenth Association (NSJA) held its Black Excellence Ceremony Feb. 6 to kick off Lynn’s observance of Black History Month.

NSJA Founder and President Nicole McClain, a Lynn councilor-at-large, presided over the program at City Hall that culminated with the awarding of Black Excellence awards to individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the city. Each of the honorees received congressional, state, and city citations at the ceremony. The honorees photos’ were unveiled for display on the Black Excellence banner situated in the City Hall foyer.

“I think it’s really important that we have representation on the walls of City Hall of people of color that are doing great things, so Happy Black History Month,” said McClain, adding that the North Shore Juneteenth Association thrives on sharing and highlighting positive image of Black American culture.

Honored at the North Shore Juneteenth Association’s Black Excellence Ceremony for their outstanding individual achievements and contributions to the community were award recipients, from left, in front row: Nayellie Estrella, President Nicole McClain, Toni Waldron, Johann Hunter, Jireh Ishaazi, Jah’Nyah Spencer and Whitney Bright. In the back row, from left to right are Khiry Todd, Ferns Francois, Schuyler C. Hogan, Jesse J. Warren Jr., and Garcia Dalzon.

Mayor Jared Nicholson thanked McClain and the North Shore Juneteenth Association “for putting on this amazing event.”

“There is Black excellence in Lynn,” said Nicholson. “It is so important for us to have these opportunities to recognize that, to celebrate it, to tell those stories. We want to know our history and be able to build on that. We want to know the role models among us so we can look to those folks that have been recognized and will be recognized. It also helps us imagine possibilities for the future.”

Nicholson noted the recent swearing-in of the city’s “first Afro-Latina councilor, Natasha Megie-Maddrey, and first African-American woman councilor, Nicole McClain.”

Public Health Coordinator Norris Guscott, a 2022 Black Excellence awardee, and Zumix radio host Tim Potter delivered inspiring addresses during the program. Helina Almonte presented a poem honoring the event.

Guscott related some of the impactful remembrances of his youth. “Because I was able to see professionals that looked like me, it was like, okay, this isn’t impossible,” said Guscott. “Yes, I have role models of all races, but it definitely hits different when it’s someone that looks like you.”

Noting the honorees sitting in the front row, Potter told the audience, “Here is your future.”

“It is time for real change, real leadership, and this generation has the access to make the world better,” said Potter. “So enlist these folks in stewardship, in helping and volunteering in the community, participating and making this world a better place.”

The Black Excellence honorees recognized with the prestigious and inspiring awards were: Lacrecia Thomson, Garcia Dalzon, Attorney Schuyler Hogan, Johann Hunter, Whitney Bright, Ferns Francois, Nayellie Estrella, Toni Waldron, Khiry Todd, Jesse Warren Jr., Jireh Ishaazi, and Jah’Nyah Spencer. 

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