Born in the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Angela P. Sealy, the current chairperson and former treasurer of the Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), has been involved in carnival activities since the 1970s. Prior to migrating to the United States, Angela lived on Basilion Street, the same in Trinidad where the late Carlos Lezama, former president and co-founder of WIADCA, had resided.
Sealy’s cultural activism extended to the United States, where she became active with a small group of carnival cultural enthusiasts who focused on developing strategies to relocate the Harlem Carnival parade to Brooklyn in the late 1960s, while working as an assistant train dispatcher at the Metropolitan Transit Authority. In moving to Brooklyn, the mecca of Caribbean-American residents in New York City, Angela became an official WIADCA member in 1967. This augmented a previously rich 20-year legacy, while forging a 50-year legacy of what is now known as the “New York Caribbean Carnival Week and Parade” — “NYC’s Greatest Show on Earth!”
Sealy says this endeavor was the catalyst to expanding Caribbean-American culture. She described WIADCA as “an institution that is the largest Caribbean voice in North America,” which “presents the largest Caribbean festivals in North America, and offers many, including elected officials, the opportunity to reach over 1.5 million Caribbean-American patrons in four days.”
With many fond memories of humble beginnings, Angela recollects the parade’s various locations, including the Armory on Dean Street in Brooklyn, before making Eastern Parkway, considered the “Cultural Row,” its permanent home in 1971.
A long-time cultural advocate, visionary and stalwart of the Caribbean-American community, Sealy said she was “proud” to see the fruits of WIADCA’s “Dream to a Legacy” fulfilled this year during the institution’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
She remains a full-time volunteer with WIADCA, focusing all her efforts in the development and the success of the West Indian culture, through youth mentorship, strategic partnerships and community development. Her motto is “the success of WIADCA lies in the hands of the next generation. Rain, sun or shine the show must go on.”
Sealy’s accolades include cultural awards from the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), and New York State Sen. Jesse Hamilton. This has led her to be instrumental in creating opportunities for young professionals to become members offering their ideas, among others, in technology, media, sponsorship, production, and community outreach.
Sealy says her fondest hope was that, when the history of New York’s Caribbean Carnival is written, there would an inscription at WIADCA’s headquarters reading: “Angela Patricia Sealy was here. She showed up, seized the day, made her mark, gave her all and left a legacy for the next generation of Caribbean leaders.”