A major political club in Brooklyn on Sunday honored seven male community leaders at a gala ceremony at Tropical Paradise Ballroom on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn as part of its Caribbean American Heritage Month celebrations.
The Progressive Democrats Political Association (PDPA), headed and founded by former New York City Council Member Jamaican-born Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, bestowed the honor on: Richard Buery, a prominent leader in the Panamanian American community; Rickford Burke, a Guyanese-born legal and political consultant who has been involved in several successful political campaigns; George Hulse, of Health-First, an insurer regarded as a leader in service to the Brooklyn community; State Sen. Kevin Parker, of the 21st Senatorial District; Trevor Smith, of Tower Isle Frozen Foods, Ltd., the maker of Jamaican-style patties and sponsors of the Jamaican Bobsled team; Chasen Hollancid, director, Suede Hospitality Group; and Nelson King, Caribbean Life’s senior writer.
“This is our annual celebration recognizing the men who never turn their heads from social equality,” said Veronica Phillips, PDPA’s Vincentian-born vice chair in her introductory remarks, at the ceremony that was attended by a number of New York City legislators and officials, including Congressional Representatives Yvette D. Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries; City Comptroller Scott Springer; Public Advocate Letitia James; Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Jr.; Assembly Members Nick Perry, Diana Richardson and Latrice Walker; City Council Member Jumaane Williams; and District Leader Cory Provost (58th Assembly District).
Phillips said the event focused on “the attention on the men of the area who have made notable contributions over the years to the strength and vibrant life of Brooklyn.”
Rep. Clarke (D-9th C.D.), the daughter of Una Clarke and a PDPA executive member, noted the “significant contributions” of the honorees “to the development and furtherance of our community.
“On behalf of the people of the 9th Congressional District of New York, which I am proud to represent in Congress, I would like to recognize Sen. Kevin Parker, Richard Buery, Rickford Burke, Chasen Hollancid, George Hulse, Nelson King and Trevor Smith,” she said.
“I would like to pay special tribute to Sen. Parker, who has served our community with diligence and great enthusiasm, and who has served us since 2002 with diligence and competence — always focusing on the concerns of his constituents,” the younger Clarke added. “We express our gratitude to him for his service.”
“I’m really honored to be included with this group of men,” said Parker, representative for the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn, in his acceptance speech.
“Being honored among Caribbean leaders is a great honor for me,” added the African American, stating that Una Clarke, for whom he had worked before seeking political office, “has been more than a mentor to me. I can’t tell how much she has motivated me.
“I want to thank PDPA [for the honor],” he continued. “It has meant the world to me.”
Burke said he was “honored by this gesture, recognizing the work that I do,” and Hulse said: “What an honor to receive an award with such a distinguished group of men!”