Inspiration for the Nation

9/11 She-roes Honored at Luncheon in Harlem

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approached, observances of that horrific day emerged. On Friday, September 10, 2021, Women on the Worldstage (W.O.W.), Our Daily Bread Ministries, and Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook hosted an awards luncheon at the historic Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem. Themed “Inspiration for the Nation,” by the inimitable “Rev. Sujay” as Dr. Cook is known, the event honored Black media, film, organizations, and five remarkable women who as 911 operators and dispatchers, stayed on the phones fielding thousands of calls while the towers fell.

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Cook, an NYPD chaplain at the time and the first woman in that role, responded to Ground Zero on that day. Operators and dispatchers tried to save lives, keeping people hopeful and encouraged until either help or the end came. They are the five Black women who continued to work and were never publicly acknowledged, and who still work for 911 and the NYPD. “They are our unsung she-roes. They displayed faith, courage, fortitude, brilliance, and resilience,” said Rev. Dr. Sujay as she introduced Cheryl James, Monique Brown, Darlene Cherebin, Raeann Singleton, and Natalie Wilson to a standing ovation in thanks for their heroic service.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James spoke directly to the women thanking them for their courageous work. A film highlighting their time together before, during, and after Ground Zero was featured, along with other reflective moments. Other community leaders receiving awards were Terra Renee of African American Women in Cinema, who documented the events from a Black perspective; Barbara Kairson, president of the NY Coalition of 100 Black Women; Princess Jenkins, owner of The Brownstone clothing emporium in Harlem; and Rev. Greg Johnson of Emblem Health. Pat Stevenson, Harlem Community Newspapers Inc.; The Positive Community publishers Adrian Council and Jean Wells; and Dennis Dillon, Christian Times publisher also received awards. “Black media played an active role in portraying the ‘whole truth and nothing but the truth,'” said Rev. Sujay.—TPC Staff

To watch Sujay’s short film honoring 5 Unsung She-roes of 9/11 visit: