Public Advocate of the City of New York, Letitia James presented proclamations to Caribbean nationals, and citizens of Caribbean descent, during a recent Caribbean Heritage Month reception in the David Dinkins municipal building, in Manhattan.
Grenadian national, Carlisle Paul, a trustee and NY District Council of Carpenters Delegate, who represents Queens County Local Union 45, was recognized for his commitment to his community.
Professor Chantel Jackson of Belizean-descent, a director of the Harlem Center for Education and Social Worker, was congratulated for her dedication to educating youth in her community.
Earnest J. Baptiste, chief executive officer of NYC Health & Hospice/ Kings County Hospital, a Haitian-born, was honored for his distinguished career that included service at the Catholic Health East, and the St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, among others. Neva M. Shillingford-King of the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an executive vice president of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. She founded the Labor Youth Organization, an arm of the then ruling Dominica Labor Party where she became president before migrating to the US.
Chaka Bomani of Castries, St. Lucia is president of the Upscale Group, an entertainment entitity, and owner of the hugely popular Suede Restaurant which opened in 2014, and specializes in modern Caribbean cuisine.
Artist and culture worker Jamaican-born Maxine Hamilton-Alexander developed and implemented programs and workshops in Caribbean arts and culture while brining thought-provoking conversations to youth in the community. Her mission is to stay inspired and resourceful through arts and culture.
Sesame Flyers International, Inc. headed by Curtis Nelson, executive director, is the largest English-speaking Caribbean American organization that was honored for its 30 years of dedication to educating the youth population of Brooklyn. More than 6,000 people will receive help from the organization this year alone.
Guyanese-born Deodat Urprasad was recognized for his outstanding career which took him to many precincts. He joined the Police Housing Department in 1992 and began his career on patrol duty in the P.S.A #3, before climbing the ladder to lieutenant, captain, and executive officer, and being promoted to deputy inspector.
Public Advocate Letitia James, joined by E. Wayne McDonald of the Caribbean Culture Theatre at the podium and who recently signed legislation to ban employers from asking a job applicant for previous salary information, applauded the honorees for their contribution to America.
“People from the Caribbean came to this country with big dreams and they turned those dreams into reality,” noted James, who lauded citizens for sharing their traditions, celebrations and incredible strength and dedication.
James alluded to the political storm that nationals face, and said it was critically important that “we say it loud and proud that we support our immigrants, that we support people who came from around the globe to New York and America. We will not allow anyone to dictate to us, and we will not allow any bigotry from some elected officials.”
“We will move forward and celebrate our diversity, that is our strength not our weakness. Caribbean nationals have broken boundaries for centuries and helping to make our nation great,” said the politician who noted that the rich culture of the Caribbean people permeates New York, particularly “my beloved Brooklyn, that is more vibrant, colorful, fun, and more soulful.”
“Our commitment is to address issues that are affecting citizens, like affordable housing,” said James, adding that the city welcomes all who travelled from their nations from all the beautiful islands of the Caribbean, where they left to start a new life in the United States to build a foundation “for yourself and family and the next generation.”
“You are the embodiment of the American dream, and tonight, we celebrate you,” concluded James.
The afternoon’s event, celebrated with Caribbean cuisine, opened with the singing of “America The Beautiful” by Ayana Alexander, accompanied by Guyanese-born vocalist, Avis Joseph.