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Binghamton Unveils Plaque Honoring City's First African American Employee

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Friday, Mayor Rich David joined community leaders from the Department of Parks and Recreation at Columbus Park to unveil a new plaque honoring the life of Major Barnett Sr., Binghamton's first African American employee.

Family and friends came together to pay homage to their mentor and grandfather, Major Barnett, who treasured Columbus Park as if it was his home.

"The concept of public service and giving back was very important to [Major Barnett]. He recognized the future of our community," said Mayor rich David.

Commemorating Major Barnett's service to the community and his ability to overcome adversity, the event gatherers rejoiced his life with song and prayer. Knowing that his struggles have helped pave the way for other African Americans to achieve their dreams.

"I'm here to say that Mr. Barnett...I'm standing on his shoulders. I was the first black elected to the New York State Assembly from Central NY," said Samuel Roberts, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

Speaking on behalf of his grandfather, Brennan Major Barnett talked about his grandfather's struggles.

"Born in 1922, Mobile, Alabama...growing up in the 1930's blacks were looked upon as third-class citizens. Something less than a household pet. My grandfather grew up in a time where lynching was viewed as something as normal." said Brennan Major Barnett, grandson.

According to Major's family, after Barnett Sr. went on to serve in the Armed Forces, he moved to Binghamton. Spending nearly 60 years in Broome County, Major acquired a job working for the City of Binghamton's Park and Recreation, where he continued to work for a decade.

Truly an amazing man, Major Barnett Sr. Proving no matter who you are or what you look like, you can rise to accomplish great obstacles.

"Jackie Robinson, Barack Obama, Major Barnett...all men that broke the color barrier," said Brennan Major Barnett.