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Black Westchester, Westchester County Press & Others Honored At African American Heritage Festival

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CiQ-f3IXEAAVPt3Valhalla, New York — Starting of the first official weekend of the Summer of 2016, African-Americans In Media were honored at the 32nd African-American Heritage Festival Celebration, Sunday at the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla, NY.

Honorees included Monica Bertram-Bennett (Global Head of Bloomberg’s Corporate Communications multimedia and brand entertainment teams), Scott Pierce (Photojournalist who  has worked at WPIX, WWOR and is currently a Cameraman for FOX 5NY), Damon K. Jones (Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine & Host of People Before Politics Radio), AJ Woodson (Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester Magazine & Host of People Before Politics Radio), Sandra T. Blackwell (President, Publisher and Editor of the Westchester County Press) and Justin Walters (Sports Anchor with WRNN/Fios1 News).

Black Westchester is both humbled and excited to be recognized by the Festival which is co-sponsored by a Coalition of African-American Organizations in Westchester County, as we also celebrate our two-year anniversary this summer.

Black Westchester's Damon K. Jones & AJ Woodson [Black Westchester]
Black Westchester’s Damon K. Jones and AJ Woodson [Black Westchester]
BW was started June 2014 by the UrbanSoul Media Group, a partnership of Damon K. Jones (Publisher) and AJ Woodson (Editor-In-Chief) to represent for people of color in Westchester  County in specific and the Black Community in its entity. Committed to be a platform to profile life, culture, economics, politics, sports and entertainment and those who are representing vision in these marketplaces and who can both encourage and provide role models to other men and women. Through the magazine, radio show and editorial content, BW was created to be a vessel of community information throughout Westchester and the Tri-State area of New York, with the mission to promote the concept of “community” through media. So to be honored by a Coalition of African-American Organizations in Westchester County is a great honor.

“I am humbled to participate and be honored at the historic celebration for black people in Westchester,” share BW Publisher Damon K. Jones. “We must continue to honor the struggle and sacrifices of our ancestors and never forget!”

We would like to congratulate all of the 2016 African-American Heritage Festival Honorees, especially Sandra T. Blackwell of the Westchester County Press. The newspaper has held it down as the sole African-American voice in Westchester County for decades and has been in existence for 88 years. Without the road Blackwell and the County Press paved, there would be no Black Westchester Magazine. We are glad to be able to join you in carrying on the tradition of being the voice the black community. Sandra Black Westchester salutes you!


For thirty-two years, the African-American community has come together to celebrate the rich culture and heritage of the people from the African Diaspora – Africans, African-Americans and Caribbeans. 

Many years ago, John H. Harmon, a man with a great passion for education, had a vision to preserve and showcase the contributions of African-Americans here in Westchester County and worldwide.  He organized the Westchester Chapter of the African-American Historical Association, and co-founded the Afro-American Cultural Foundation.  It was through the efforts of the Foundation that the countywide Black History Month Celebration began, and later the African-American heritage Day Celebration.  Today, John Harmon’s legacy continues and the annual celebration is co-sponsored by a coalition of African-American organizations from throughout Westchester County.

The Coalition maintains its tradition of preserving our cultural heritage by presenting entertainment and program representative of African values and culture.  This year we are honoring “African-Americans in Media”.

The Coalition has chosen this year to celebrate and recognize African-Americans in media professions, honoring their accomplishment of being an integral part of our community.

We also pay homage to the faith of our ancestors, which reminds us that we have the responsibility to ensure that their struggle is not forgotten.  We must re-commit ourselves to the glorious duty of restoring our families, our neighborhoods and our people to their historical greatness.


AJ Woodson

AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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