The hugely-diverse culture of Brooklyn came together on Sunday at Brooklyn Borough Hall for the inaugural International Day of Friendship, celebrating the borough’s rich heritage.
With nearly one million foreign-born nationals living in Brooklyn, Borough President Eric L. Adams said he recognizes that Brooklyn is a diverse melting pot, “which makes our borough the perfect place to host an International Day of Friendship celebration.”
The International Day of Friendship was celebrated around the world on Sunday with countries partaking in a variety of events to promote peace and unity.
“Our mission is to build ‘One Brooklyn’, bridging gaps between cultures and making bonds of friendship that connect people in all communities throughout Brooklyn and the world,” Adams said.
“’One Brooklyn’ is not saying that we want to be in first place,” he added. “’One Brooklyn is saying that no matter what house of worship you go to or faith you’re part of, no matter what your country of origin is, no matter if you prefer eating a roti or sitting in a sukkah, no matter what happens in the borough, we’re all here together as one borough and ‘One Brooklyn,’” he continued. “And so we’re here to show it today.”
The Unity Parade of Flags kicked off the International Day of Friendship celebration, with the youth carrying flags of all the countries of the world.
As parade marchers met their country’s delegate, they joined hands in forming a ceremonial circle of friendship around Brooklyn Borough Hall, demonstrating the significance of “bridging the gap in generations and throughout the world’s people,” according to Adams.
The day also featured remarks by, among others, Brooklyn Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene; Diana Reyna, Deputy Borough President; former Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Guyanese-born Sandra Chapman, chief program officer, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President; Ingrid Lewis-Martin, senior advisor, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President; and Dr. Roy Hastick, president of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI).
There were also cultural performances from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the Caribbean, as well as “A Taste of Continental Cuisine,” highlighting cuisines from those regions and kosher cuisine.
“We are at the United Nations of Brooklyn,” said Eugene, the first Haitian-born to be elected to the City Council, who represents the 40th Council District. “It’s so important to come together as one people, one community. That’s what makes Brooklyn so powerful.
“You don’t have to get a ticket to go to the Caribbean,” he added. “You have it at Borough Hall.”
Hastick listed most of the islands and territories that comprise the Caribbean.
“Some of us may not be aware that that when most of us say ‘the Caribbean’, we are really acknowledging the diversity of cultures and languages of the many nations which make up that part of the world,” he said. “They are the Dutch, Spanish, English and the French-speaking.”
Adams told Caribbean Life that it was very important to come together in unity, adding that “people have to see we’re ‘One Brooklyn’.
“It allows us to live as neighbors, as one,” he said. “We reach out to as many people as possible under the big tent.”