Caribbean pride was definitely on display on June 11th, judging by the colorful island flags that adorned the entryway to 1222 East 96th Street, where State Senator Roxanne Persaud and Assemblywoman Jaime Williams kicked off celebrations for Caribbean Heritage Month. Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado joined Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Richardson, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, her vivacious mother Una Clarke, Assemblywoman Monique Chandler-Waterman and Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse, all leaders of Caribbean origin. Guests enjoyed steel pan music, dance performances and samplings of mouthwatering Caribbean cuisine.
On June 26th, TropicalFete celebrated the occasion with a mini carnival at 10 Grand Army Plaza. The audience witnessed a display of spectacular costumes, one of which was “A Tribute To St. Vincent and The Grenadines.” Calypsonian “Dr. Witty” wowed the crowd in his royal blue outfit, complete with a crimson cape, as he sang “I am a Superman!”
NYC Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recognized Caribbean Heritage Month by hosting a celebration on June 28th at Suede, a Caribbean restaurant in East Flatbush. Senator Persaud and two other phenomenal women of Caribbean descent, poet Michele Voltaire Marcelin and radio personality Angela Yee, along with The Breakfast Club and Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival (BCLF), were honored by the Comptroller. DiNapoli stated, “We gathered in Brooklyn to celebrate the Caribbean community and recognize extraordinary individuals of Caribbean descent.” Guest speaker Yvette Clarke reminded all of other “extraordinary individuals of Caribbean descent” who were also instrumental in shaping the economic landscape of this nation. She talked about Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father and first Secretary of the Treasury, who came from St. Kitts/Nevis. Vice President Kamila Harris, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, singer Harry Belafonte and Marcus Garvey (all Jamaicans), as well as Grenadian Malcolm X and Barbadian Shirley Chisolm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, were also mentioned.
The month-long festivities wrapped up on June 30th. Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and his deputy threw a soiree that included poetry reading, calypso singing, steel pan playing, colorfully dressed dancers on stilts and a pageantry of elaborate carnival costumes, paraded by Caribbean beauties. Richardson read the names of Caribbean countries, stressing at the end, “many countries, one Caribbean,” a sentiment echoed by both Reynoso and Haitian-born Councilwoman Narcisse, who attended the event. “She’s also from my island — Hispaniola,” Reynoso, whose family is from the Dominican Republic, announced proudly, as he invited the former nurse to say a few words. Narcisse who spoke in both English and French Creole, agreed, stating, “We may have our differences, but we are still one! One Caribbean!”