(Left to Right:) Weeksville Heritage Center’s Gala Honorees and Presenters: D. Clarke Pile, Senior Vice President, Northeast Regional Manager, Corporate Awardee for Hill International, Presenter Thomas Spearing, President, Project Management Group, of Hill International, Weeksville Heritage Center Executive Director Pamela Green, Honoree Coach Avery Johnson of Nets Basketball and his wife Cassandra Johnson, Presenter Brett D. Yormark, CEO, Nets Basketball, Honoree Elinor Tatum, Publisher of the New York Amsterdam News, Lori Stokes, MC and Anchor, Eyewitness News, and Presenter Reginald Van Lee, Executive Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc, share a moment.

*Pamela E. Green, executive director, and Hal Biagas, chair of the board of trustees, of Weeksville Heritage Center, an historic site of great national significance located at 1698 Bergen Street between Buffalo and Rochester Avenues in Brooklyn, recently hosted the center’s annual Save the Memories of Self awards dinner.

Each year, the commendable organization hosts an annual event to raise funds for the preservation of the center.  The highly anticipated annual event has become the pride of Brooklyn — somewhat like what the Brooklyn Dodgers meant to this city’s largest borough.  This is Brooklyn at its very best and donations made will ensure that Weeksville becomes a premier cultural institution in Central Brooklyn, and a catalyst for community development.

The milestone tenth annual Save the Memories of Self awards dinner attracted some 200 black tie guests to its gala on Monday, November 14, 2011 at the swanky Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South.  Lori Stokes, anchor, Eyewitness News This Morning and Eyewitness News at Noon served as Mistress of Ceremonies.

The posh evening began with a cocktail reception underwritten by Barclays followed by a sumptuous dinner and program.  Throughout the lovely evening guests were delightfully entertained by the Christian Cultural Center Adult Choir.  And the nattily dressed man with the sophisticated look and copious papers in the back of the ballroom making sure everything was as fabulous as he had imagined it would be was event producer Dwight Johnson who was surrounded by his pristine staff from Dwight Johnson Design.

The celebration committee consisted of Lisa and Kenny Troutt who served as lead chair; Susan Whiting, vice chair and executive vice president, The Nielsen Company, served as dinner chair; and Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and William M. Lewis, Jr. served as honorary co-chairs.

During the short and sensational program, Weeksville handed out its awards for excellence.  Hill International, Inc., global leader in construction risk management, received the corporate award accepted by D. Clarke Pile, PE, senior vice president, northeast regional manager, Hill International, Inc., and presented by Thomas Spearing, president, project management group (Americas), Hill International, Inc.

Honoree Elinor Tatum, publisher and editor-in-chief, New York Amsterdam News, was the recipient of the Edward Bannister award presented by Reginald Van Lee, executive vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.

Honoree Avery Johnson, head coach, New Jersey Nets, was presented with the James Weeks award by Brett D. Yormark, chief executive officer, Nets Basketball, and president and chief executive officer, Barclays Center.

The center lives, breathes and preserves the entrepreneurial spirit of the village of Weeksville; an independent African American community that thrived during the 19th century in

Brooklyn, New York.  Still in its original location, the organization services, directly and indirectly, some 20,000 visitors yearly.  Rooted in African-American history, Weeksville honors the past by offering innovative, socially conscious learning experiences through history, art, environment and technology.

Weeksville broke ground in October 2009 for the construction of a new 19,000 sq. ft. Education and Cultural Arts Building which is scheduled to open in 2012. With the completion of this building, Weeksville will: be one of the country’s largest African American cultural institutions; have an unprecedented opportunity for expanded research, education, and programming; and provide additional innovative programs that engage audiences of all ages with 19th century history through modern and relevant applications.

Funds raised will support Weeksville’s year-long programs that include 293 yearly guided

tours of the historic site for schoolchildren and the community, preservation workshops for

high school students and a farmers market that offers fresh produce for 700 visitors of all ages

and all economic backgrounds.

Weeksville Heritage Center documents and preserves the history of the free and intentional 19th century African American community of Weeksville, in what is now known as Crown Heights.  It also creates and inspires innovative, contemporary uses of African American history through education, the arts, and civic engagement.  Weeksville Heritage Center is one of few African American historic sites on its original property since the 1840s.  (Photo Credit:  Judy Skarratt)

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.