Locals share what it means to be Black and proud
Angienise Orozco-Alvarez, 13, Norwich
"I think that when I hear the word Black, I think about culture, and I show my community. I think about where I come from. I think about the happy stuff. When I think about it, I think about how we overcame the things we went through. We still sometimes go through it. It’s still part of our world, but we finally just went through it. I like to express myself. Express my community, express my music, my dance and stuff like that. So when I hear that, I feel proud of myself, I feel powerful, and feel very proud for my family and proud for my community."
Oliver Aubin, 14, Norwich
"Some of the actions of some people in America, they try to make us seem that, since we’re Black, we shouldn’t be proud. But when people come together, they say, 'No, we're Black, we’re proud.' It means a lot to me to know that we have some people in America who, when some are doing things that are wrong, they try to help other people say, 'no, we’re Black and we’re proud.' So I just think what it means to be Black and to be proud is beautiful."
Shayla Roche, 17, Norwich
"To me, it just means embracing your culture and never being scared to show your roots and always wanting to collaborate and work with others of color."
Clarence Cooper, 57, dean of students, Norwich Free Academy
"It means that I understand my roots. I am proud to be here in the position that I have. It allows me to be an example to others who look like me, or that I can be proud of who I am. Also, to those like Martin Luther King, those who gave me this opportunity I have today, that makes me proud. Like my father always told me when I asked a simple question, like to borrow the car. He said, 'Yes, but please don’t do anything that’s going to harm my name.' So, when I think today, that when I say I’m Black and proud, I think about doing things the right way, and I want to be an example to those that follow me."
Stephen Sheffield, 58, Groton City councilor
"Being Black and proud means pride in my African-American heritage. It also means achieving success after struggle. It's to educate oneself and to inspire others and to contribute to others in my community."
Grace Carlos, 21, college student at Eastern Connecticut State University, Montville
"To be Black and proud to me means loving who I am and taking advantage of every opportunity my ancestors worked so hard to provide for me."
Rep. Anthony Nolan, 54, New London police patrol officer and Connecticut state representative, New London
"I am proud because I have come to learn being Black is magical. I've fallen in love with the historical facts that you cannot tell the true story of America without mentioning how much Black folk truly were 'the ones' to make, create and build a nation that many like to claim, control and need our votes to win. I am proud to carry the mantle of those who came before me."
Jordan Bennett, 13, Waterford
"I am proud to be Black because it makes me a member of an amazing community of people. It is not easy being a Black American today and it was not easy in the past either. My ancestors were treated horribly because they were Black Americans, but they were smart, strong, brave and they were able to overcome those struggles."
Brian Wright, New London Police Department Chief, 53, North Stonington
"I'm an extremely proud to be who and what I am. I consider it a blessing to be part of such a rich and diverse culture. Historically, we (as a people) have not been in control of our image, being Black and proud provides us as a people, a way to reclaim authority over how we are seen to ourselves and to the world.....RESILIENT, INNOVATIVE, STRONG."
Ahmed Abdelrahman, 9, East Lyme
"I am proud to know about my history and the culture of my family. I am proud that everyone is loved in this community. "