Batiste remarked that of all the awards he has received during his career, he holds this one most dear. “Libraries are an oasis in our culture and one such as the Brooklyn Public Library is leading the way.” Photos by Beth Eisgrau-Heller
Supporters of Brooklyn Public Library gathered this week in the newly-renovated Central Library at Grand Army Plaza to recognize leaders improving the lives of everyday New Yorkers. More than $1 million was raised to support the library’s programs and collections.
The library offers tens of thousands of free programs a year for people from all walks of life — immigrants learning a new language, students preparing for college, older adults seeking companionship, aspiring entrepreneurs launching their dreams, children discovering the world and more.
“We were thrilled to be back in person to celebrate Brooklyn Public Library’s 125th anniversary and the individuals and organizations in the borough whose talent, perseverance and commitment to justice inspire us. Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women initiative is on track to close opportunity gaps long suffered by Black women and girls in Brooklyn and across the country,” said Linda Johnson, president and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library.
“And through their music and writing, Jon Batiste and Suleika Jaouad provide clarity, joy and hope in equal abundance. We are delighted to honor their accomplishments and to welcome our supporters back to Central Library,” she added.
Suleika Jaouad and her husband, Jon Batiste, were honored for their contributions to the world of art, music, writing and journalism. The couple lives in Brooklyn.
Jon Batiste is a five-time Grammy winner who has played on some of the biggest stages around the world, including the Grammys and Kennedy Center Honors, and nightly with his band Stay Human, appearing on CBS’s “Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” He has also spent much of his career bringing music back to where it started —including on the steps of the Central Library in celebration of Juneteenth with Sing for Hope and in the opening season of BPL’s Dweck Center in 2008.
Suleika Jaouad is the author of the instant New York Times bestselling memoir, “Between Two Kingdoms.” She wrote the Emmy Award-winning New York Times column Life, Interrupted and her reporting and essays have been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Vogue and NPR, among others. Her mainstage TED Talk was one of the ten most popular of 2019 and has nearly 5 million views.
Batiste accepted the award on behalf of himself and Jaouad, noting that of the many recognitions they have received throughout their careers, this was one of the greatest. He added, “Libraries are an oasis in our culture and one such as the Brooklyn Public Library is leading the way.”
Internationally acclaimed musician, composer and educator Wynton Marsalis presented the honor, noting that “through the synergy of their union, they have enriched and advanced our social, cultural and civic life – here in Brooklyn, and beyond – even to some of the furthest reaches of our planet.”
The Goldman Sachs “One Million Black Women” initiative was also honored. In partnership with Black-women-led organizations, financial institutions and others, Goldman Sachs has committed $10B in direct investment capital and $100 million in philanthropic capital over the next decade to address the gender and racial biases that Black women have faced for generations.
Launched in March 2021, the initiative has invested nearly $1 billion across the core pillars of health care, job creation and workforce development, education, affordable housing, digital connectivity, financial health and access to capital.
“We are proud to be honored by the Brooklyn Public Library,” said Asahi Pompey, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. “Institutions like the Brooklyn Public Library serve as critical anchors of our communities.”
Lindsay Greene, president and CEO of the Navy Yard, presented the honor to Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women. She previously served as chief strategy officer of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and as chief strategy officer for Economic Development and Housing in the New York City Mayor’s Office.
Gizelle George-Joseph, COO of the Goldman Sachs’ Global Investment Research division, accepted the honor.
Baratunde Thurston served as host for the evening. A trustee of Brooklyn Public Library, Thurston is an Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for “The Daily Show,” advised the Obama White House, and wrote The New York Times bestseller How To Be Black.
Mayor Adams delivered additional remarks and guests were entertained by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Brass Queens and DJ FRITZo.