The normally quiet courtrooms and hallways of Brooklyn Supreme Court erupted with a display of colorful carnival costumes and Caribbean pride and culture on June 27.
Kings County Courts’ Caribbean-American Heritage Month Celebration honored the contributions immigrants from the islands have brought to Brooklyn and how they have shaped and impacted the borough and the city. One of those examples, said an organizer, was displaying the vibrancy of Caribbean culture and how each country in the region offers something different.
“Every year we try to do something different and this year we wanted to show the costumes for people to see,” said Betty Matondo-John, secretary to State Supreme Court Associate Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix, herself a native of the Caribbean island of Barbados.
Very often just a few facets of Caribbean culture are well-known and celebrated, Matondo-John noted, and this Caribbean heritage event was yet another opportunity to share a variety of what the region’s nations have to offer.
“A lot of people of other cultures don’t know what Caribbean culture is like and think we’re all the same but we wanted to show what makes different and all the aspects that make us unique,” she added.
As part of the ceremony in the Downtown Brooklyn courthouse, about a dozen court officers of Caribbean descent were honored for their service to the court system. The entertainment was provided by the Brooklyn-based carnival and mas band, Sesame Flyers International, which brightened the courtroom with brilliantly-colored carnival-themed costumes and headdresses.
Matondo-John added that a highlight of the event were the remarks by the keynote speaker, social justice educator Jamila Lyiscott, that so resonated with some attendees that they became emotional.
“Up to now a lot of people are still talking about this program and this was best the court has ever seen,” said Matondo-John. “I’ve been getting nothing but positive feedback — everyone loved it, and from what I understand our speaker was absolutely amazing. She moved people so much that some were moved to tears.”
Matondo-John says she and other members of the Caribbean heritage committee are already planning next year’s festivities, adding that this year’s display honoring Caribbean culture has set the bar high.
“The whole thing was awesome. It was a wonderful event attended by a lot of wonderful people and it was phenomenal,” she said.
“We outdid last year, and I wonder how we’re going to outdo next year.”