The rousing annual Of Colors Black History Exhibition and Diversity Celebration 2020 will take place on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. Founder Tracy Todd Hunter will preside over the free event with journalist and former news anchor Melba Tolliver. The celebration, a joyous offering with its art, music, cultural cuisine and esteemed honorees, will take place in the Artspace gallery at 20 Terry St. in Patchogue.
DJ Rob James and guitarist and singer Captain Kirk Douglas will help raise the roof.
“The Black History honorees are Patchogue-Medford Schools Superintendent Donna Jones, for her accomplishments and achievement as the district’s first African-American superintendent; New York State exoneree John Bunn, who is doing wonderful things with the Innocence Project; Pastor Sondra Huggins, for her achievements, contributions and mentorship, including women empowerment workshops and the legion of people that she’s assisted; volunteer president of the Greater Gordon Heights Chamber of Commerce Edna J. White, who is also an ordained minister, has written 24 published books and works with the LI Coalition for Homeless,” said Hunter. “Olivia Winslow and Keith Herbert of Newsday will receive the Melba Tolliver Award.”
The Diversity Award will be given to Thomas Keegan, of Keegan & Keegan, Ross & Rosner, who heads up and started the Cultural Heritage Committee under the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce and who allowed artists to display their art at BrickHouse Brewery before there were venues; Plaza MAC executive director Catherine Oberg, whose programs and films embrace the community and who first showed films at BrickHouse Brewery before moving to the Terry Street location; Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk’s Way to Grow East Patchogue director Carol Kelly, for her child care efforts; Emmy award-winning emergency medical specialist and medical correspondent for CNN and Fox Live Dr. Steve Salvatore, who opened opioid addiction centers in the New York area; and highly rated neurosurgeon Dr. Kathryn Ko, who also incorporates her art into her medical practice.
Keegan, who was on the road when the Advance called, said, “I am very honored Of Colors chose me to recognize the concern and appreciation we all have in Patchogue for our unique diversity and am happy to say that covers many cultures. We’re looking forward to working with Tracy and continuing that good work.”
Hunter — one of the first Artspace Patchogue residents to move in and Of Colors chair — was quick to point out that this event, which consistently attracts a standing-room only mix of high-profile, residential, officials and youth attendees, isn’t accomplished single-handed. The Of Colors Celebration Committee pitches in, including Regina Hunt, Lisa Edwards, Marian Russo, David Kennedy, Evelyn Paredes, DJ Rob James and Dimitri Tsikitas, Barret Beyer, and guitarist and singer Captain Kirk Douglas.
Three students will also be cited: Jacqueline Balestrieri, Robert Capozzi and Gionnah Hicks.
“It’s one of the best events Patchogue has,” said Kennedy, executive director of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce. “It helps emphasize the great diversity culture we have. Tracy’s personality is so infused in this event; that’s what makes this special — who he is as a person.”