MOUNT VERNON, NY — When your name is on the building, you’re always welcome.
Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, Hollywood superstar and Mount Vernon-raised hometown hero Denzel Washington made an in-person visit to his namesake school for the arts in Mount Vernon.
The Academy Award-winning actor and his wife were treated to performances by the next generation of talented performers-in-training.
“Today, November 21, 2022 was a great day!” Principal Evelyn Collins wrote in a social media post. “Our school’s namesake and wife, Denzel and Pauletta Washington, came to our school for a visit. We presented performances in every arts discipline. Denzel was deeply moved. We are the Denzel Washington School of the Arts!”
Even before the filmmaker became a household name, those in Mount Vernon have always known him as a “hometown hero” who has worked tirelessly to share his success with those hoping to follow in his footsteps.
The double Oscar-winning actor, director and producer has also been awarded a Tony, three Golden Globes and the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. 67-year-old Washington has worked on over 60 films to date. In 2020, the New York Times named him the greatest actor of the 21st century so far.
Born in Mount Vernon in 1954 to a Pentecostal minister and local beautician, Washington attended Pennington-Grimes Elementary School until 1968. After his parents divorced, he was sent to boarding school but eventually came back to the New York area and earned a BA in Drama and Journalism from Fordham University in 1977.
Washington is also known for being a longtime spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“In my town in Mount Vernon when I was in kindergarten I remember them building this club and hearing about what was going on in there,” Washington told Forbes in 2018. “At first, it was just a place to go and have some fun. You know, I didn’t realize I was being taught a lesson for my life. I just thought I was going to play some basketball, but I’ve been a member in heart and mind for 58 years now.”
During a February 2021 surprise visit to the Boys and Girls Club in Mount Vernon, he told the teens “you never see a wagon behind a casket. The Egyptians tried to bury themselves with their wealth, but they got robbed. So the most important thing in life is not making money. The most important thing is giving back.”