A major political club in New York on Sunday conveyed Father’s Day honors on nine community and business advocates at a gala ceremony at Tropical Paradise Ballroom on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn-based Progressive Democrats Political Association (PDPA) bestowed the honor on Dr. George Irish, the Montserratan-born dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Education at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College; Barbadian-born Earl Phillips, secretary treasurer of the Transport Workers Union, Local 100, the largest transportation local union in the United States; and Haitian-born musician, singer, songwriter and civil rights activist Kinomorsa Divers, also known as King Kino.
The other honorees were: James Cordice, the pioneer of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation on the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa; Franklyn “Supadex” Richards, president of the fast-rising Internet-based group, VincyCares; Jamaicans, entrepreneurs Oscar Palmar and Winston Williams; Tobagonian businessman Javin Baird; and Guyanese-born businessman and newspaper publisher Zamal Sankar.
The event was also in keeping with PDPA’s Caribbean American Heritage Month celebration.
“Today is a day to have them (honorees) smell the roses while their noses are still working,” said U.S. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, a PDPA executive member, in jest, in addressing the ceremony.
“These gentlemen are very special,” added Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn and whose Jamaican-born mother, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, a former New York City Councilmember, is PDPA’s founder and president.
“Thank you for being the standard-bearers in our community,” continued the younger Clarke, who presented the honorees with congressional citations.
New York State Assemblywoman Latrice Walter also presented State proclamations to the honorees.
Dr. Irish currently resides in the Bronx, where he serves as spiritual / presiding elder of various ministries – Spiritual Awakening Ministries, Come World Ministries, Come Bible Institute, Zion Pentecostal Faith Center, Mount Calvary United C.O.G.I.C., Soul Harvest International Ministries in Long Island and Beulah Pilgrim Holiness Church in Boston.
Besides being dean at Medgar Evers College, Dr. Irish is the executive director of the Caribbean Research Center at the college.
He is a tenured full professor of Caribbean and Latin American Studies, president / CEO of Caribbean Diaspora Press Inc., and Caribbean-American Research Foundation Inc., and also chancellor, Universidad Popular de Las Americas based in Panama.
A native-born Barbadian, Phillips migrated to the U.S. in 1987 and made Brooklyn his home. He is the proud father of two children – Tina and Alexander.
In 1993, he secured employment with the NYCT as a chassis maintainer, and 1994, after one year with NYCT, he decided to dissolve his auto repair shop and concentrate on his job with NYCT.
His activism and determination to protect the safety of all transit workers propelled him to a job with the union as a Field Safety Representative. In 2010, he teamed up with the current Local 100 President John Samuelson to form a slate that among other things promised a more aggressive workplace safety agenda.
In 2011, Phillips filled the vacancy in the office of Local Secretary Treasurer; and, in 2013, the Local 100 membership elected him to a full three-year term in that office.
Lord Kinomorsa Divers, King Kino, a renowned Haitian star musician, singer, songwriter, humanitarian and civil rights activist, said he was “born to be a leader.”
He began his successful career path at a very early age, singing gospel music in church.
He later progressed to playing musical instruments and popular music during his teens, but he never forgot the teachings and disciplines he received in the church.
In 1975, after residing in New York for five years, businessman Palmer visited his native Jamaica for a two-week vacation. While in Kingston, the capital, he wanted jerk pork, but, at that time, they only sold pot roasted pork and called it jerk pork.
He and some friends went to Boston in Portland, the home of jerk pork, and got some “real jerk pork.”
During that time, the idea came to him that this would be a good business in Kingston. On returning to Kingston, he started to look for a place for a restaurant. He rented a store in the then new plaza, Kings Plaza.
Palmer then returned to New York and, two weeks later, he was back in Jamaica and opened Jerk City Restaurant in May 1975. That was the beginning of the commercialization of jerk, he said.
Sankar is an independent businessman, social entrepreneur and community activist.
In addition to his work as CEO at the Caribbean Daylight newspaper which he founded more than two decades ago, Sankar is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), and vice president of The Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers, Inc., a leading provider of early childhood care and education in the City of New York.
Baird, a proud father of six children, migrated to the US in June 1988 and relocated his enterprise, ZDK Transporters. He has worked as a building superintendent for a housing complex in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
He said ZDK Transporters has expanded from shipping cargo worldwide to managing home relocation and transporting rations from food banks. He said he’s using his transportation resources to support and develop his food distribution program.
Cordice, a former president and public relations officer of the Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP), has served the community in various capacities, including: Block captain in Philadelphia and Kensington, Pennsylvania; panelist, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office; youth aid panelist; former chair of Team Jamaica Bickle-Philadelphia; co- founder and research analyst of the Philadelphia-based Caribbean American Heritage Collaborative (CAHCI); Legal and Election Committee member, Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrants Affairs; chair of SVG Economic Development Plan summit in Philadelphia; SVG representative on the U.S. Census 2010 Philadelphia Caribbean Complete Count Committee; and pioneer of the Thomas Saunders Secondary School’s participation in the Penn Relays for the past five years, and the hoisting of SVG flag on Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
Richards was involved in organizations from an early age, and was the treasurer of Young Turks Entertainment Club at 16.
As a budding artist, he designed his first CD cover and commercial T-shirt for his uncle, calypsonian and former diplomat Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas, while still a student in St. Martin’s.
Richards was also affiliated with, and attended several leadership workshops held by, the National Youth Council and New Artiste Movement (NAM).
After migration to New York, he immediately enrolled at the New York College of Technology, where he received an associate degree in lithographic Offset Technology and a bachelor’s in Graphic Arts and Advertising design Technology.
In 1997, he launched a graphics design firm, Black Shuga Enterprise, with a division called Black Shuga Graphix.
Richards was the manager of the prepress department at Expedi Printing in Manhattan, and worked at Quad Graphics, the largest commercial graphic design and printing company globally.
After working for five years at Conde Nast, a global public relations firm, Richards left in 2014 to “develop and focus on the demands of Black Shuga Graphics.”
Over the years, he also became very active with the art form; he loves calypso, and joined the Brooklyn-based Dynamite Calypso Tent, where he served as president for about six years.
“To receive such a prestigious award was very humbling to me,” he said. “I love to help and contribute to the betterment of humanity, and especially our people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he added.