The New York Chapter of the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO) and the International African Arts Festival (IAAFestival) hosted the 52nd Annual Malcolm X Black Unity Awards program, on Wednesday, May 19. It is the oldest and most consistent Malcolm X awards program in the country.
The 2021 Malcolm X Awardees were community activist couple, Lumumba and Monifa Bandele along with photographer Lem M. Peterkin and journalist Bernice Elizabeth Green of Our Time Press. As in the past, all of these recipients have a long and rich history of building and contributing to the world African community. This is NAKO’s and IAAFestival’s small way of saying Asante Sana (thank you very much) to these unsung heroes and heroines who have sacrificed so much during their lifetime to educate, build unity in and empower the global African community. “These are truly people who have internalized the spirit of El Hajj Malik Shabazz aka Malcolm X and Omowale, in whose name these awards are given. They continue to embody Brother Malcolm’s vision, as well as carried out his mission and work in various ways,” said NAKO and IAAFestival chair, Dr. Segun Shabaka.
The program included a keynote presentation by the national Chair of NAKO, Dr. Maulana Karenga, on the rich life of Malcolm X. There were cultural presentations by Eto’o Tsana and other cultural artists.
Monifa Bandele has more than a decade of experience in policy analysis, communications, civic engagement organizing, and project management working with groups like the Brennan Center for Justice, Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund, and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
At MomsRising.org she managed the health kids and maternal justice campaigns, helping to successfully increase children’s access to healthy food, stem junk food marketing, and end the school-to-prison pipeline. Through maternal justice, she is working to end the rising tide of maternal mortality in the United States. During her tenure at the Brennan Center as national field director for the Right to Vote Campaign, the coalition successfully change laws in five state expanding the franchise to more that 250,000 formerly incarcerated people.
Finally, Monifa sits on the steering committee for Communities United for Police Reform and is an activist with the Black Lives Matter Movement. She helped launch two successful legal cases against police misconduct (Daniels v NYC and Floyd v NYC); conducted Know Your Right workshops for thousands of community members; and worked to pass landmark police reform legislation in New York City (Community Safety Act 2013).
Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele, New York, is National Strategies and Partnerships Director at Movement for Black Lives. He is a community organizer and educator from Central Brooklyn. From 1994 – 1998 Lumumba served as programming coordinator at the Franklin H. Williams Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCC). During his tenure at CCC, he also co-found Azabache, an organizers training conference and workshop series for young activists. All the while as a Black Studies Major at City College of NY/CUNY, he went on to receive his Masters in Human Service from Lincoln University in 1998. As a member and organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Mr. Akinwole-Bandele helped establish its campaign to counter police abuse and misconduct. He also co-founded the world renowned Black August Hip Hop Project. Black August raises awareness and support for political prisoners in the United States. From 2002 to 2007 Lumumba served as a counselor and lecturer at Medgar Evers College/CUNY. Lumumba currently serves as an adjunct lecturer teaching Community Organizing at Lehman College/CUNY.
Lem M. Peterkin, Photojournalist
For over 50 years, Lem has covered Black New York with his photos appearing regularly in the Amsterdam News, Our Time Press, The Daily Challenge and virtually all of the city’s Black-owned media as well as the New York Times and the Daily News. Lem, the Dean of Black New York photographers, is a fixture are press conferences and events. Known by sight by all the politicians and major activists, It can be said that if Lem isn’t covering the event, it isn’t really happening.
His archive of over 500,000 negatives, is a treasure trove documenting the breadth of New York’s African American community, cementing him as a visual griot telling stories that would be lost without his presence.
Lem is currently seeking funding to digitize all of his negatives and preserve a history that must not be lost.
Bernice Elizabeth Green is co-founder of the Brooklyn-based Our Time Press, where she developed the magazine-formatted Our Time At Home. She covers human interest and legacy stories for the paper, and currently is expanding and restructuring its outreach capabilities. She previously held editorial, PR and/or marketing positions with such companies as UniWorld Group (assigned to Microsoft and all Lower Manhattan African Burial Ground events from 2003 reinterment ceremonies to the establishment of the African Burial Ground National Monument in 2006); Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; CBS News and CBS Entertainment; the New York Amsterdam News’ classified advertising department; Joseph Okpaku at Third Press, Charles Harris at Random House; and circulation/assistant to editor Pat Patterson at Black Enterprise Magazine.
She credits her work developing a newsletter for the Eleanor Roosevelt Houses Tenants Association; a summer program created by Jitu Weusi and Al Vann and educators at Nathanial Macon JHS, as influencers of the community journalism work she does today.
She is an archivist, collector, property owner and real estate investor, all currently ranking as her primary interests after her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and siblings’ offspring. She hopes to complete her book this year.