Rep. Marvin L. Abney, center, with Rev. Lauri Smalls, left, and Newport Mayor Jamie Bova, right, at Rogers High School 49th Annual Black History Month Assembly. Rep. Abney received the George T. Downing Award at the event. (Photo provided by RI General Assembly)

Rep. Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown) received “The George T. Downing Award” during Rogers High School’s 49th annual Black History Month Assembly which was held on February 14 at Rogers High School.

The award honors adults who exemplify the spirit of citizenship and community.

“This is a storied celebration in Rhode Island and I am not only humbled, but also, quite honored to be invited to share in the history and culture that are being celebrated.  The namesake of the award I received, George T. Downing, was a prime example of the importance of education and why it is crucial to building a better world that is free from racism, bigotry and intolerance.  He believed in stronger and more united communities and that this dream was only possible through education.  I’d like to thank all those involved in today’s event for this thoughtful recognition and I commend them for keeping this important event alive for the past 49 years,” said Representative Abney, Chairman of the House Finance Committee in a statement.

The annual assembly was first established at Rogers High School in 1972 by Eugene Corry, a history teacher at the high school.

The assembly featured awards, music and tributes to the contributions of African-Americans in the nation’s history.  The event is named for the late Reverend Robert L. Williams, the pastor of Community Baptist Church in Newport.