Local People’s World readers and contributors held their annual Better World Awards banquet May 29, focusing on the fight for quality public education.

The assault by the Bloomberg administration on teachers, coupled with state budget cuts pushed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, prompted the organizing committee to pick the education theme, as well as the choice to honor educators for, in the words of one committee member,  “all the good work they do, work that is always challenging and at times may seem daunting.”

Pioneering civil rights activist Dorothy Burnham was warmly received with a standing ovation after she received her award. At 96 years old, the program was not long enough to mention all her life’s work, which began in the 1930s with the American Student Union and continued in the 1940s with the Southern Negro Youth Congress in Birmingham. She has long been active in women’s and peace organizations, and is currently she is president of the Louis E. Burnham Awards Fund.

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, another of the honorees, stayed to talk with Dorothy and took several pictures for their local paper. State Sen. Bill Perkins appeared to show his appreciation and respect for his colleague, Sen. Montgomery, who fought a hedge fund-backed opponent over the issue of public education in the recent election.

City Council Member Letitia James sent a tribute to the People’s World, printed in the program’s ad book. She praised the work of the World in making New York – and beyond – a better place in many ways. And she praised her “mentor” Velmanette Montgomery.

Elena Mora, a union grievance representative, hosted the event. At one point, Mora asked all those who are present or former educators to stand and be recognized. To everyone’s surprise, a third of the audience stood and received a loud ovation. The audience was a multiracial full house of all ages.

Awards were also given to Bronx Parent Association leader Michael Arney and Bob Greenberg, co-chair of  the United Federation of Teacher’s Social and Economic Justice Committee.


Gabe Falsetta
Gabe Falsetta

Long-time social justice activist Gabe Falsetta writes from New York City.