Rev. Al Sharpton Receives The Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center Humanitarian Award

August 12, 2021

The Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center today announced The Rev. Al Sharpton and Cynthia Bissett Germanotta will receive the distinguished Humanitarian Medal.

The Medal, named for Bowen’s founder, will be presented during a virtual gala on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

“The Humanitarian Awards serves as a moment when we pause to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of individuals who have succeeded at changing lives,” said Patricia C. Jordan, Bowen Center Board Chair. “As the Bowen Center marks 35 years of providing valued life-sustaining services to the Harlem community and beyond, we are delighted to honor a nationally renowned civil rights activist and the co-founder of an organization that supports and celebrates young people around the world. Together, these two individuals have enriched the lives of tens of thousands of individuals across the globe with their activism and messages of strength and love.

The Emma L Bowen Humanitarian Medal honors individuals who provide exceptional leadership and unfailing dedication to those in need. Their selfless efforts on behalf of others epitomize the legacy of the Bowen Center’s late founder, Mrs. Emma L. Bowen. Previous honorees include Tony Award Winner and Kennedy Center Honoree Bill T. Jones, NBC New York Meteorologist Janice Huff, prominent Civil Rights activist Percy E. Sutton, cosmetics executive Mark Goldsmith and financial specialist Cynthia DiBartolo.

2021 Humanitarian Medal Honorees

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The Reverend Al Sharpton — Internationally renowned civil rights leader, founder, and President of the National Action Network (NAN), which has more than 100 chapters across the country. Hailed by former President Barack Obama as a “champion for the downtrodden,” Reverend Sharpton is the host of “Politics Nation” on MSNBC; a nationally syndicated daily radio show “Keepin’ It Real”; and a nationally broadcast radio show on Sunday titled, “The Hour of Power.”

Cynthia Bissett Germanotta — President and co-founder of Born This Way Foundation, which she launched with her daughter Lady Gaga in 2012. Born This Way Foundation supports the mental health of young people and works with them to build a kinder, braver world. Under Cynthia’s leadership, Born This Way Foundation has reached tens of thousands of young people across the country and around the world, launched innovative youth-focused programming such as teen Mental Health First Aid, and conducted cutting-edge research to improve the understanding of mental wellness and the impact of kindness.

In addition, Adriano Espaillat was named a Community Leadership Honoree see more here.

Founded by Mrs. Bowen in 1986, the Center empowers individuals to cope with mental health illnesses effectively and productively. Services include a therapeutic preschool for children with behavioral and developmental issues; outpatient mental health services for children and adolescents; programs for adults & seniors dealing with mental health and addiction challenges; a care management team that provides advocacy and services to home-bound individuals; a 20-bed residential addiction recovery facility, and a food pantry program that serves over 22,000 packages of food annually.

The 35th Anniversary Gala

In addition to the Medal presentations, the virtual gala will commemorate the Bowen Center’s 35th Anniversary, with musical performances and client success stories.

For additional information including full bios please visit

Emma L. Bowen was a mother, community activist and fighter for justice who was always concerned about the well-being of her neighbors as well as her community. Recognizing that the roots of community mental health issues lie in the self-images of oppressed individuals and that these images were largely created and bolstered by the mass media, she organized Black people across the City of New York to take action against the broadcast industry.

In 1971, her hard work and dedication resulted in the signing of a landmark agreement with the City’s television broadcasters – WABC, WNBC and WCBS that created positions of Community Affairs Directors and took positive steps to improve programming, and the hiring and training of Black people.

When Mrs. Bowen learned that the City of New York was planning to open a community-based mental health facility in Harlem without input from community members, she partnered with the late William F. Hatcher to bring the community and elected representatives together to establish the non-profit organization that would become the Upper Manhattan Mental Health Center, Inc., later renamed the Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center, after Mrs. Bowen’s passing in 1996.

The Emma L. Bowen Community Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community-based organization licensed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York State Office of Mental Health, New York State Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services, and New York State Department of Education.

Photo credit: Rev. Al Sharpton.

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