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On behalf of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, I would like to bring greetings on this 44th staging of our cultural showcase. This year we have chosen cultural unity as our focus. With the strength and support of the Association, we have chosen as our carnival theme for 2011 – ‘One Caribbean Family’!

We must recognize that this carnival, while providing entertainment and revelry, has meant much more for the Caribbean community. Our efforts to promote our heritage and rich culture made the process of assimilation a much easier experience for Caribbean people. It created avenues for a better life and standard of living.

Patricia Haynes of Barbados, has expressed that the Carnival has given dignity to wearing the mark of “West Indian” when it was not always popular to do so.

To Claire Patterson of Guyana, the carnival is “the” Celebration and jubilation of our multiple roots and cultures....it is indeed the best imported euphoric event from the Caribbean to North America

According to Ann Marie Adamson of Guyana/St. Lucia, the Carnival represents a legacy that is indelible on the minds of all Caribbean people and should remain a legacy for generations to come, as important to them in the future, as important as it is to us, today.

Antonio Martin of Kings County Hospital Center, with roots from Jamaica and Panama sees the Carnival as a celebration of our Caribbean and Latin American heritage.

Lastly, Angela Cooper of Trinidad & Tobago feels that Carnival creates a spirit of unification where out of many, we become one.

Resonating from these visions and expressions of the Carnival, represents the reasons why we continue to promote this vibrant culture. When the Hon. Jessica Odle-Baril of Barbados suggested this year’s theme, to be ‘All Ah We is one Family’, we decided to capture it into “One Caribbean Family”.

In this spirit we are pleased to once again announce that this year, the WIADCA -- with the kind support of The City University of New York -- will be issuing five scholarships to college bound students within our community. This is our way of investing in the future and creating a new generation of innovators who will carry the torch of community building.

Despite the economic uncertainties of the times, I am convinced that Carnival 2011 will be one of the biggest and most electrifying we have seen in the past 44 years.

In 2002 when I took over the presidency of the WIADCA, I publicly declared that the hallmark of my leadership will be one of opening up and reaching out. My vision then, as it is now, is one of inclusion. This year, with the opportunity to work in close collaboration with the Brooklyn Borough President’s Caribbean Heritage Planning Committee, we have been able to reach closer than ever to fulfilling this vision. With the widespread representation of the various Caribbean islands, we have fostered a kind of unity that augurs well for the carnival’s future. Everyone has done their individual and collective parts to ensure that we have a successful, fun-filled and unified event in 2011. So on Monday September 5 when we dance down Eastern Parkway, it will indeed be as One Caribbean Family.

The West Indian American Day Carnival is built on a legacy of inclusiveness. Therefore, we are assured that with this new team spirit infused into “our family,” it will extend beyond the shores of our Caribbean isles to truly include all and sundry. In so doing we are guaranteed that for generations to come, the Brooklyn carnival parade will be an avenue of artistic expression for everyone regardless of color, class or race.

For the early Caribbean American pioneers, developing an identity was a difficult task before the process of assimilation was attained. Carnival has helped to drastically change that social climate and to reverse the impact of years of keeping one’s “island identity” a secret. This created a new paradigm by which the contributions of Caribbean Americans are evaluated. With stubborn determination, our carnival pioneers helped to reshape the cultural landscape of this City. Today, we are privileged to stand resolute on their shoulders.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank all our sponsors who have stood with us even through these challenging economic times. We also thank all those whose creative effort and participation helps to make this carnival a success every year. Thanks also to New York City’s service agencies whose support is essential to this endeavor.

Let me also congratulate our 2011 Grand Marshals, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Michael Mulgrew, President of UFT, Hon. Winston Peters, Minister of Arts & Multiculturalism for Trinidad & Tobago, Ms. Iris Weinshall, CUNY Vice Chancellor, Brigadier General Renwick L. Payne, Director Joint Forces Headquarters, New York and Ms. Georgina Ngozi, President & CEO of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

In closing, carnival by tradition represents a respite; a time when we can forget about the monotony of everyday life and for a few hours allow ourselves the freeness that comes with cultural creative expression. I urge everyone to experience this free spiritedness at its best on Monday Sept. 5th. So on behalf of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, I say have a safe and enjoyable Carnival 2011.

Thank you.

Yolanda Lezama Clarke

Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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