Festival of Cultures to honor Caribbean centenarians

June is Caribbean American Heritage Month and there are numerous events planned throughout the U.S. to celebrate and recognize Caribbean immigrants who have contributed to the growth and development of their communities in the United States. One such celebration happens on Sunday, June 23 at Nazareth High School in Brooklyn from 4:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., titled “Festival of Cultures in honor of Caribbean Heritage Month” hosted by Dr. Una Clarke and the Brooklyn based Progressive Democratic Political Association (PDPA).

“For the first time in the history of Caribbean Heritage Month, we will honor centenarians from our different nations, active senior citizens and community based organizations that have made significant contributions in New York City for what has become known as the Caribbean American community,” proclaims Dr. Clarke as she shared thoughts Caribbean American Heritage Month and it’s significance today. Dr. Clarke says that we must recognize those “who came before us and carved out a way for us to follow. They are the true heroes that must be celebrated in this Caribbean American Heritage Month.

Among those being honored is retired Chief Judge of the Civil Court of Haiti, Arnold Charles who is 101 years old. For more than 20 years, he worked as the curriculum director for immigrant students at the Board of Education, New York City and returned home to Haiti after the dictatorship ended. During his tenure as a teacher in New York, Charles worked closely with newly arrived immigrant students, especially Haitian students helping them get acclimatized to their new environment.

Also being honored is 102-year-old, Elmina Romana Parris who was born in Berbice, Guyana. She migrated with her family to New York in 1975. The mother of three is known for her skills as a master seamstress, baker and chef. She remains an active member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn and is sought after for her delicious baked goods. The grandmother of 15 and great grand mother of 40 continues to cook and bake for fundraisers and other activities for the church. She will be on hand to accept her award.

“We are proud of our community,” says Dr. Clarke, founder of the Progressive Democratic Political Association based in Brooklyn. Other individuals being honored at the “Festival of Cultures” include Ms. Mildred Forde of Guyana, Mrs. Mildred Griffith also of Guyana, Ms. Cynthia Gittens of Jamaica, Sgt. Herve Guiteau of Haiti, Mr. Selwyn King president of PAJACAM, Ms. Urania Petit of St. Lucia and Dr. Waldaba Stewart of Panama. Community based organizations that will be recognized for their years of service include, Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society, The Caribbean American Nurses Association, Jamaica Ex-Police Association, Jamaican Progressive League, Something Positive Dance Group and United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn. “We encourage everyone to come out and support this event,” says Dr. Clarke, “Let’s celebrate our peoples and our cultures.”

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