To commemorate a beloved Black History Month tradition, Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf announced the establishment of the Johnnie “JB” Brown Black History Month Celebration Endowment Fund at a ceremony in May. The fund, named after a longtime RIT employee, will help preserve the popular Black History Month potluck luncheon held each February.
The luncheons, founded and managed by Brown, who has worked as a custodian for 23 years, feature guest speakers who discuss matters relevant to Black History Month and also prompt the return to campus of retired RIT and NTID colleagues.
“The luncheon has become a symbol of togetherness, community and mutual understanding among different walks of life on campus,” said Pamela Christopher, interim director, NTID’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “Along with the fond memories we all have of his kindness and humor, JB’s legacy at NTID is undoubtedly the Black History Month luncheons that he has founded and managed for so many years.”
During the announcement, Brown was surrounded by family and friends and presented with a plaque in recognition of his service and dedication.
“This is a great honor, and I’m humbled by all of this,” he said. “I have such passion for the annual potluck luncheon and I have to thank everyone who helps every year and who has helped it grow. I’m really glad that this event will live on. It brings so many people from the RIT/NTID family together, and it’s a great way to honor Black History Month.”
Sydney Long, assistant to the associate vice president for NTID’s Office of Academic Affairs, helped establish the endowment fund.
“Johnnie is a prime example of the congeniality within the halls of NTID, transcending race, rank, ethnicity and employment status,” said Long. “He is well respected by all constituencies and epitomizes the standard of a dedicated and loyal employee. I believe Johnnie Brown’s legacy in engaging the RIT/NTID community annually with the Black History Month Celebration and potluck lunch is worthy of continuing in the future. We are the beneficiaries of his beautiful spirit and so honored for his many years of service and contribution in building a cohesive community within RIT and NTID.”
To contribute to the fund, go to www.rit.edu/giving/JB-endowment.