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Flags fly for Black History Month (and other Rockland stories)

This week in the Villages, we look at the flags flying in Nyack for Black History Month, a three-year homicide investigation that led to a Rockland man’s arrest, and some snow day sled gifting from the mayor. Plus, other Nyack and Rockland-centric stories, links, notes, and updates.

The Pan-African flag is flown in Nyack to commemorate Black History Month. (Photo by Andrea Andrea Swenson)

Red, black and green flags fly high for Black History Month (and we delve into the history of the flag)

In case you missed it, The Village of Nyack and the Nyack Branch NAACP have put up red, black and green African-American flags around Main Street and Broadway in celebration of Black History Month, according to our own eyes, as well as reporting by the Journal News and LoHud.

Nyack Mayor Joseph Rand attended the ceremony, which took place earlier this month. It was one of his first acts as mayor.

The Town of Ramapo also raised the flag at Town Hall this month and honored four members of the community for their equity work, according to the Rockland County Times.

The flag — made up of three equal horizontal bands of color — was adopted with support of the Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey over 100 years ago.

According to a 2017 article by Leah Donnella, an editor on NPR’s Code Switch., “The Pan-African flag, (also called the Marcus Garvey, UNIA, Afro-American or Black Liberation flag,) was designed to represent people of the African Diaspora, and, as one scholar put it, to symbolize ‘black freedom, simple.'”

Garvey believed it was a sign of political weakness for the Black race not to have a flag, Donnella explains, and so it was adopted by the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) at a New York City conference in 1920.  

“At that time, the goal of Garvey’s movement was to establish a political home for black people in Africa,” the article goes to say, citing  Robert Hill, a historian and Marcus Garvey scholar. “Garvey patterned his thinking on other nationalist movements at that time — the Jewish Zionist movement, the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, [and] the fight against imperialism in China.”

The flag’s colors each have symbolic meaning: red for the blood shed by Africans fighting for freedom around the world and the shared blood of African people, Black for the people represented by the flag, and green for growth and the fertility of Africa, according to Donnella.

The Pan-African flag went on to become the template for flags all over Africa, Hill says in the article, and was popularized again in the 1960s. The three bands of color overlayed with the words “Black Lives Matter” became ubiquitous in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd in police custody.

In other news:

  • Lohud has a list of Black History month events in the Lower Hudson Valley.
  • Meanwhile, The Journal News reported that Nyack Middle School had a lot of explaining to do after the hot lunch menu was changed by the district’s food vendor at the beginning of Black History month… and kids were offered chicken and waffles, with watermelon as the dessert.
  • A three-year investigation into a body found in a burning Hyundai Sonata in a snowbank off the Palisades has made its way to Rockland County. It was determined that the victim, a Bronx resident, was killed by a gunshot wound, and the investigation led last week to the arrest of a man from Stony Point. The 36-year-old suspect has now been charged with second-degree murder, according to Patch, and is being held without bail.
  • The Hill reports that Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) says he’s not worried about getting reelected after former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) flipped a Republican-held seat Tuesday in a special election to replace Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), who was expelled. They both represent New York’s 17th congressional district. “Tom Suozzi ran a good campaign. He ran to the right, and he’s somebody who has presented himself as a centrist over the course of his 30 years,” Lawler said on CNN’s “The Source.” “So I’m not concerned about how this plays out in districts like mine,” he added, noting “any number of polls shows me doing very well, and my favorability is 29 points higher in my district than the generic Republican.”
  • There’s nothing like a snow day when you’re a kid, and when your new mayor drops off free sleds at the park, you’re pretty much obliged to have fun. Village of Nyack Mayor Joe Rand capped off his update on road conditions earlier this week by mentioning that he left 20 kids’ sleds at Memorial Park, according to the Rockland Report. (Next up: lowering the voting age?)
  • And, last but not least, MLK III Speaks at St. Thomas Aquinas.

ICYM NNV’s weekly features: See Andrea Swenson’s newest Photo Shoots; Bill Batson’s latest “Nyack Sketch Log”; Mike Hays’ most recent “Nyack People & Places”; past editions of “The Villages,” including last week’s story on Nyack’s own Mario the Maker Magician’s hitting the big time.

Weather prediction (through February 27)

Snow possible this weekend(!)(?), from Friday night into Saturday morning. Then mostly clear and sunny through Tuesday. [Click here for the National Weather Service‘s latest 7-day forecast for the Nyack area. Click here for the latest Air Quality Index report for Nyack.]

8+ Months Later: Still looking for answers in the death of Sean Harris

We continue to look into the case of Sean Harris, who died under suspicious circumstances after an hours-long standoff with police on May 30.

[Update: On October 30, 2023, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office said they were still investigating Harris’s case. There has been no update from the AG’s office as of Jan. 4, 2024]

Watch the video from Truth 2 Power below to learn more about what activists are saying, and why family, friends and police reform advocates are demanding answers.

Here’s our breakdown of what happened.

Here’s Lohud reporter Nancy Cutler’s in-depth piece on Harris and his mother’s suspicions about her son’s death here.

Village updates


  • Here’s the list of all upcoming meetings posted for the Village of Nyack.
  • If you could use help paying your water bills, click here.
  • Drop off humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine (including first aid, painkillers, blankets, baby food, diapers, non-perishable food, antibiotics and more, at Village Hall, 9 N. Broadway (or at the Orangetown town hall, 26 W. Orangeburg Rd.).

Upper Nyack

South Nyack

  • Thanks to reader request, we have re-added South Nyack, which dissolved as an official village earlier this year. Please send us info about what’s going on in South Nyack at



  • The Technical Advisory Committee, which “evaluates the technical adequacy of land development applications and decides their readiness for Planning Board review,” meets most Wednesdays, including this Wednesday, from 10 am to noon, in the town hall’s Historic Map Room.
  • For a calendar list of all Clarkstown meetings and events, click here.

Other Local Updates

South Nyack advocates have filed a petition with the town of Orangetown seeking to show support for a new Elizabeth Place Playground — the grassy play area and dog park just south of 87 and right off the Esposito trail. After South Nyack dissolved in March, the town found the playground equipment at Elizabeth Place was unsafe and not compliant with ADA regulations and removed it. A new ADA compliant park has been proposed and advocates want to see the proposal approved and implemented. Click here to read and/or sign the petition.

Nyack Schools

Check out our latest Nyack Schools Report, a somewhat regular feature we will post whenever possible. (Editor’s note: if you’re interested in writing about schools for Nyack News and Views, lease send us an email at

Find out what else is going on in Nyack-area schools at Home Page – Nyack Public Schools (


A rare polio case was recently discovered in Rockland County. Here’s some info on how to protect yourself:

  • New Yorkers can pre-register for a free polio vaccination appointment here or call 845-238-1956 to schedule. Walk-ins will also be accepted.
  • Vaccines are also available through local healthcare providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • For more information on polio including symptoms and spread, visit NYSDOH’s page here.
  • New Yorkers can learn more about the polio vaccine available in the U.S. at CDC’s page here.
  • The Reviving Rockland Restaurants Grant Program will reimburse businesses between $5,000 and $25,000 for past expenses or fund future expenses for eligible outdoor dining COVID-19 mitigation equipment. Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, delis, cafes, breweries, wineries, and other similar places of business. For more information and to download an application visit
  • Fill out this survey to help the county provide better digital services.

Musical Outro

Words and music to live by in 2024 and beyond:

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