by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)
On Tuesday, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. honored basketball legend, author and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and ABC’s Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, among others at its 2017 Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards, held in the Great Hall at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Anchor and Managing Editor of ABC World News Tonight, David Muir, served as master of ceremonies.
Now in its 14th year, the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards celebrates the extraordinary lives and heritage of selected citizens, or their descendants, who have made major contributions to the American experience. From sports heroes, entertainers and authors to former Secretaries of State and Nobel Prize winners, more than 50 esteemed citizens have been recognized by the Foundation.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the grandson of immigrants from Trinidad. Robin Roberts has roots in Virginia where her ancestors were slaves. When speaking at the event, according to thepostgame.com, Abdul-Jabbar said none of his success in the United States would have been possible if not for the leap of faith made by Abdul-Jabbar’s paternal grandparents, Cyrus and Venus Alcindor, 100 years ago, when they immigrated from Trinidad to the United States. “I’ve always understood myself to be a second-generation immigrant,” Abdul-Jabbar says. “It fits in with so many other stories like it.”
As reported by nj.com, Roberts captured the theme of the event best, when she said: “My mother had this wonderful way of saying: just look all around us … we all may have traveled here in different ways, but there are far more similarities than differences, so why not embrace and celebrate all of those many things that we have in common instead of those few differences.”
This year, the Family Heritage Awards also recognized the 125th anniversary of Ellis Island, which opened in 1892 as the nation’s preeminent immigration station.