On Thursday, May 2, the NYC Commission on Human Rights, along with the Mayor’s Offices of Immigrant Affairs and International Affairs, and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit will host the Third Annual African Forum this year with an Africa Day Symposium theme to commemorate the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity. The event aims to provide a platform for African dignitaries, students, young professionals, grassroots organizations, and academia to come together to build coalition with young professionals of African descent and showcase the achievements of the diaspora.
Taking place at the Surrogate’s Court, 31 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007 from 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm, the event will feature a formal program including remarks from elected officials, a moderated panel with Africans from the diaspora, a community engagement Q&A, and two keynote addresses.
Leading up to the day, Face2Face Africa caught up with Christelle N. Onwu, the Lead Advisor for African Communities at the New York City Commission on Human Rights to shed some more light about this year’s event.
Face2Face Africa: What is the Africa Day Symposium about?
Christelle: The objective of the event is to provide an interactive dialogue and platform for African dignitaries, students, young professionals, entrepreneurs, civil society, and grassroot organizations. We will encourage discussions on what it means to be a first- and second-generation African immigrant, and present solutions on ways to build coalition with people of African descent. The event will also convene and provide an action-oriented and participatory conversation that will showcase the achievements of Africans in the diaspora, and their contributions to New York City.
Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), presently recognized as the African Union (AU). Throughout the world, leaders gather to celebrate and acknowledge the successes of the organization and reflect upon the challenges and work that lies ahead. For this year’s celebration, the New York City Commission on Human Rights in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Face2Face Africa, and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa will host an Africa Day Symposium: Engaging Communities of the African Diaspora in NYC.
Face2Face Africa: Can you tell us a bit about the speakers for the event?
Christelle: We have a phenomenal list of speakers. Our two keynote speakers are: Under Secretary General Bience Gawanas, Special Adviser on Africa to the United Nations Secretary-General and Ugochukwu Nwaokoro, Deputy Mayor of Newark for International Relations and Diaspora Affairs; City of Newark. Both will discuss the importance of engaging the diaspora and offer ideas on how to build bridges and mobilize the African community in New York City and on the continent.
We will also have a list of other Senior Level City Officials: Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives; Joseph Garba, Secretary to the Speaker for Intergovernmental Affairs at the New York State Assembly; Commissioner/Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner, NYC Commission on Human Rights; Commissioner Bitta Mostofi, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; Jonnel Doris, Senior Advisor and Director of the Mayor’s Office for the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Program; May Malik, Deputy Commissioner for External Affairs at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; Aissata M.B. Camara is Deputy Commissioner for Operations and Strategic Partnerships in the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs; Dr. Uzodinma Iweala, CEO of The Africa Center in NYC.
Face2Face Africa: Why should people attend?
Christelle: The New York City Commission on Human Rights is dedicated to strengthening our relationship with New Yorkers across the African Diaspora. For the past 3 years, we’ve organized an African Forum to specifically mobilize and cater to the needs of the African community.
This event would be an opportunity for Africans in the diaspora to celebrate their achievements, build bridges with international and national organizations, and immerse in conversations on how to move forward. The Africa Day Symposium will also be an opportunity for Africans in New York City to network with high level senior officials and share their ideas on how to cater to their needs. That being said, anyone interested in helping us to accomplish these goals is welcome to attend.
Face2Face Africa: How do you register for the event?
Christelle: To register for the event, please contact Christelle Onwu, African Communities Lead Advisor at email@example.com via phone at 646 988 2602.
Face2Face Africa: What is the purpose of the NYC Commission on Human Rights?
Christelle: The New York City Commission on Human Rights enforces the NYC Human Rights law – one of the most protective in the nation. There are 25 protected classes in NYC in public accommodations, housing, and employment. The Commission operates two bureaus, the Law Enforcement Bureau and the Community Relations Bureau, which work in tandem to combat discrimination and educate the public on their rights and foster positive relationships in NYC communities. If anyone feels they have been discriminated against they can call 311 and ask for Human Rights, or call us at 718-722-3131.
Face2Face Africa: Any final thoughts?
Christelle: This year’s forum is filled with phenomenal speakers and an exciting program. It’s a celebration of our advancement as a community and the work that lies ahead. Come on one, come all to network, discuss and strategize on ways to mobilize New York City’s African community.