The four new members inducted into the Rockland County Civil/Human Rights Hall of Fame join the ranks of 43 other individuals described as “pioneers who selflessly helped the cause of human/civil rights in this county.” The newest honorees are:
Thomas Ulysses Alexander, Phyllis B. Frank, Doroeto “Ted” C. De Guzman and Willie J. Trotman.
The four became members on the 10th anniversary of the Hall of Fame. Colleagues, family members and friends acknowledged their dedication , commitment and conviction at Friday afternoon’s ceremony at Patriot Hills.
“Rockland County has a proud and deep history of leaders and groups who have played a major part in local and international leadership roles, making dramatic contributions to the advancement of civil rights,” said County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef.
County Human Rights Commissioner S. Ram Nagubandi said the 2012 inductees set wonderful examples of what an individual can do.
“You don’t have to be something special you can make a difference,” said Nagubandi. “And, if you want to change something don’t look for any political leader any spiritual leader.”
Family members spoke about Alexander, who received the award posthumously. He began the fight against segregated schools in the Village of Hillburn in the 1930s many years before others sought to end separate schools for different races. Alexander’s son spoke about how hardworking his father was.
Joe Coe read an introduction for Frank, which had been written by Dr. Gail Golden. Frank and Golden are interim co-directors of VCS, Inc. in New City.
“Phyllis also a longtime community leader in Rockland County known for her trailblazing work confronting all forms of oppression,” read Coe.
Frank spoke about leading efforts to end domestic violence and affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people while seeking racial justice for everyone.
De Guzman’s goddaughter introduced “Nino” Ted as being first and foremost a teacher.
“But beyond this Nino Ted has taught all of us how to lead a meaningful life through works and deeds, through caring for others and through perseverance in the space of seemingly defeating obstacles or suffering,” she said.
De Guzman said the award signifies the work of many.
“This award recognizes not me but the struggles of people who work to make a difference in the lives of their fellow man,” said De Guzman. “This award encourages people especially the generations that follow us to get involved in making our community our world a better place.”
One of Trotman’s cousins spoke about him as a fair man, saying, “There’s a sense of fairness that runs through Willie Trotman that reaches out and touches all of us.”
Trotman said he will continue to fight for social justice just as others fought before him for voting rights.