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Black Lives Matter


As a Boys & Girls Club organization, we take a stand for the future of America’s children. We stand against racism and discrimination. We stand for safety, health, dignity, and equitable opportunity. 

We recognize the lasting contributions which Black people have brought to society and endeavor to understand how black narratives are tightly woven and integrated into the narrative of the United States. We recognize the meaningful impact that individuals of African descent have made to enrich American culture, expand democracy, strengthen families, and make a better society for all. 

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Black Owned Businesses
  |  Historic Black Figures  |  Lists of Black Authors  |  Online Health Resources  

Take Action  |  BGCA Amazing Alumni 


Anti-Racism Resources 

Albany Public Library  |  UAlbany  |  106 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

Celebrations and Commemorations 


Martin Luther King Jr. Day - The third Monday of January
Dr. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

Black History Month - February
To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. First celebrated in 1926, the week was expanded into Black History Month in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history. The 2023 theme is "Black Resistance." Learn more about the month and
how to celebrate with kids.

Juneteenth - June 19
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States originating in Galveston, Texas in 1865. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.

Kwanzaa - Dec 26 - Jan 1 
A celebration of African-American culture culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually on the sixth day. Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966 and is based on harvest festival traditions from parts of West and Southeast Africa.
Learn more about Kwanzaa.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~ Harriet Tubman

Barber and Costumer

Support Black-Owned Businesses

Many Black-owned businesses still face structural racism, which poses a unique threat to their longevity and ability to serve their communities’ needs. An estimated 40 percent of Black business owners had already closed their doors between February and April of 2020. This number is twice the decline experienced by white business owners. 


Don’t know where to start? 

  • Explore downtown Albany for Black-owned businesses or see more options around the state of New York

  • Online marketplace Miiriya showcases Black-owned businesses in a range of categories, like fashion, art, beauty, and home décor.

  • - Black-owned & Black-friendly places that treat people with dignity & respect.

  • Find other companies by searching the #blackowned hashtag online. 

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Learn About Noteworthy Black Figures

Most people are familiar with well-known figures like Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and activist Rosa Parks but there are many other important men and women to learn about.


For example, there’s Shirley Chisolm, the first Black woman elected to Congress.


And Fannie Lou Hamer, a Black activist who launched Freedom Farm Cooperative (FFC), an initiative to purchase land that Black people could collectively own and farm.

Henry Box Brown was a Virginia slave who escaped by mailing himself in a wooden crate to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Learn about the history of Black people’s contributions to the catalog of inventions that marked the Industrial Revolution.

Visit for an extensive list of other notable Black figures.

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Add Black authors
to your reading list

In the US, works of fiction and nonfiction shine a bright light on the reality of this country’s history, but the stories appear differently based on who tells them. Stories of the Black experience, whether delivered by factual historical accounts or reinterpreted through fictional characters, set a standard for how we receive narratives. Even with the best intentions, white writers attempting to retell Black stories are ill-equipped. Only a Black person can tell you what it’s like to live in their skin. In gaining empathy and understanding to help unify the country and improve the human condition, these first-hand accounts are crucial.


ASALH provides a list of Books on Black Health and Wellness


PBS provides a list of 10 Black Authors Everyone Should Read

Listen to or read “The 1619 Project​” by the New York Times.

The ZORA Canon looks at 'The 100 greatest books ever written by African American women'

This powerful online story of the Tulsa Massacre, illustrated comic book-style, details how an entire Black neighborhood was destroyed by White rioters in 1921.

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online Black Health  

First, the bad news: Heart disease, cancer, and stroke are the leading causes of death for African Americans. 

  • Nearly half of all African American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke.

  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death among people of color in the United States, particularly prostate and breast cancers. 


The good news is we can do something! Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent heart disease, cancer, and stroke. 

  • Eat a healthy diet: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk & milk products. AVOID foods with: saturated fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), or added sugars.

  • Exercise regularly. Adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 150 minutes total) of exercise each week. Spread your activity out during the week and into small chunks each day.

  • Be smokefree. Smoking should be avoided at all costs due to tremendous negative impacts in the short and long term.

  • See a Doctor. Regular visits can make a big difference in health maintenance! 

Online Mental Health Resources:

Black Girl in Om 

Women's Health in Women's Hands

The Black Health Alliance

A list of Mental Health Resources Available for People of Color

Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective

Black Virtual Therapist Network

Project LETS Race and Mental Health

12 Black Mental Health and Wellness Resources to Follow on Instagram

Grief is a Direct Impact of Racism: 8 ways to support yourself


Raising Hope: Parenting in an anti-Black environment


The Nap Ministry

Association of Black Psychologists


Legacy of Trauma: Context of the African
American Existence


Therapy Resources for People of Color

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Time to 
Take Action

Take action by voting!


And contact your representatives to voice your concern about important issues.


There are several places to contact Congress:


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BGCA Amazing Alumni

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Capital Area is proud to honor the BGCA alumni who broke barriers to become the first Black Americans to reach new heights. We join the Black community in creating the next generation of history makers by doing whatever it takes to create opportunities for all young people.

BGCA Alumni: Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington

The first African American to win multiple Academy Awards

Before Denzel Washington became known for his blockbuster movies, he was a kid attending the Boys & Girls Club of Mount Vernon. At the Club, Denzel was mentored by Billy Thomas and learned several life-long lessons. Denzel fervently pursued his love for acting, earning some 60 acting credits. Denzel Washington has received several accolades for his work, including Academy Awards for best supporting actor (Glory) and best actor (Training Day), making Denzel the first African American to win two Academy Awards. “Everything you’ve seen or heard about me began with lessons I learned to live by at the Club." 

BGCA Alumni:  Katrina Adams
Katrina Adams

The first African American USTA Chairman, CEO and President

Katrina Adams became the first African American to become an NCAA doubles champion. She went on to play 12 years on the Women’s Tennis Association tour, capturing 20 career doubles titles as a professional. Adams served on the USTA Board of Directors for ten years. She made history as the first African American and the first former pro tennis player to serve as USTA Chairman, CEO, and President.

BGCA Alumni: Mike Carey
Mike Carey

The first African American to lead an officiating crew in a Super Bowl

NFL referee Mike Carey is respected throughout the league for his professionalism, preparation and sense of fair play – values made real at the William J. Oakes Boys Club, which he joined at the age of 8. Beginning his officiating career with Pop Warner games in 1972, Mike was hired by the NFL in 1990. In 2008, he was selected to officiate Super Bowl XLII, becoming the first African American to referee the Super Bowl. In addition to his NFL career, Mike co-owns Seirus Innovation, a snow sports accessories company he founded with his wife, Wendy.

BGCA Alumni: Ruth E. Carter
Ruth E. Carter

The first African American to win an Academy Award for Costume Design

Drawing pictures was one of many activities Ruth E. Carter enjoyed while attending The Springfield Family Center Boys & Girls Club.  Ruth’s love of art led her to discover her passion for costume design.  She honed her skills and eventually landed an opportunity to work with award-winning director, Spike Lee.  Ruth has worked on some 40 films.  She has been nominated for two Academy Awards, making her the first African American to be nominated for best costume design. In 2019, Ruth became the first African American to win an Academy Award for costume design for her work on Black Panther.

BGCA Alumni: Evander Holyfield
Evander Holyfield

The first African American and only four-time heavyweight boxing champion

Four-time world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield first stepped into the ring at the Warren Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta when he was 8 years old. Three years later, he qualified to compete in his first Junior Olympics. Through an honorary membership, he continued to box at the Club until making the 1984 U.S. Olympic team at age 21. Through wins and losses, Holyfield never forgot the lessons he learned at the Club. 

BGCA Alumni: Sharon Sayles Belton
Sharon Sayles Belton

The first African American Mayor of Minneapolis

Mayor of Minneapolis from 1994 to 2001, Sharon Sayles Belton, the city’s first African American and first female to hold the post, brought citizens and government together to clean up neighborhoods, fight crime, and develop local business and industry. As a community leader and activist, she has advocated for children’s and women’s issues, leading efforts to improve services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. As a senior fellow at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Sayles Belton works on anti-racism initiatives and improving information sharing between community organizations and research institutions.

BGCA Alumni: Bill Russell
Bill Russell

The first African American NBA Head Coach

NBA legend Bill Russell wasn’t always the basketball star we know him to be today.  In fact, he was cut from his high school team. However, his coach saw something in him and sent him to the Oakland Boys & Girls Club to hone his basketball skills. In 13 seasons, the dominating center led the Boston Celtics to 11 championships, including two as player-coach, the first African American coach in NBA History.  In 1975, Bill Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2010, Bill Russell was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his Civil Rights work.

BGCCA Alumni Jason Derulo
Jason Derulo

The performer got his first on-stage experiences at his Boys & Girls Club

An alum of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, Jason is a multi-platinum singer and producer of hits including “Marry Me,” “The Other Side” and “It Girl.” He is also a featured performer of the “Monday Night Football” theme and recently launched his clothing line LVL XIII at Bloomingdales. The Warner Brothers Records artist is an investor in both Catch L.A. and Rumble Boxing with Sylvester Stallone and Ashton Kutcher.

Tony Clark

The first African American Major League Baseball Players Association, executive director

Tony Clark grew up in San Diego where he attended Encanto Branch Boys & Girls Club.  He became known for his baseball and basketball skills and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers.  After a stellar MLB career, Tony retired from playing baseball and joined the Major League Baseball Players Association as director of player relations.  In 2013, players unanimously elected him executive Major League Baseball Players Association executive director.  Tony became the first former player, and first African American, to hold one of baseball’s most powerful positions.

BGCCA Alumni CC Sabathia
CC Sabathia

The MLB superstar attended his first MLB game as a Club kid

For seven years, the Continentals of Omega Boys & Girls Club offered CC Sabathia a safe place to go after school. The Club also provided his first chance to attend a Major League Baseball game and to meet his hero, Oakland A’s pitcher Dave Stewart. Mr. Graham, the Club director and mentor to young CC, always found time to help with homework or offer advice. Sabathia is now the New York Yankees’ top pitcher. He and his wife, Amber, run a charitable foundation whose beneficiaries have included Omega Club, the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark and more.

BGCA Alumni: Misty Copeland
Misty Copeland

American Ballet Theatre’s first African American principal dancer

Misty Copeland was 13-years-old when she took her first ballet class at San Pedro Boys & Girls Club. Her newfound passion led her to take to ballet quickly and in just four short years, she joined the American Ballet Theatre.  Through hard work and dedication, Copeland was promoted as the American Ballet Theatre’s first African American principal dancer.

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Great Futures Start Here

“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”
~ Michelle Obama



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