State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli celebrated the accomplishments of four local members of the Caribbean community in a ceremony at Restoration Plaza in Bedford-Stuyvesant on June 28. The state’s finance manager concluded Caribbean Heritage Month observances by presenting the distinguished Caribbean-American’s with proclamations to in honor of their achievements.
Of the honorees were State Associated Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix; Douglas Mayers, president of the Freeport, L.I. NAACP chapter and the Long Island Caribbean American Association; Darleyne Mayers, his wife and associate director of the Long Island Educational Opportunity Center, and Jason Laidley, chief of staff to State Sen. Jamaal Bailey.
DiNapoli said that as one of the city’s largest immigrant communities, Caribbean-Americans are influential, and have been essential to the growth of the Empire State.
“All across New York City, New York State, and certainly across the United States, Caribbean-Americans are a dynamic and important part of our economy and cultural life,” he said. “Across the city and state, the strengths and talents and the vast contributions of Caribbean people are on full display and Caribbean influence and culture is everywhere, bringing great energy and entrepreneurial spirit to our communities.”
The comptroller also took the time to pay respects to the Caribbean islands damaged by last season’s hurricanes.
“We continue in our hearts to show our support for the people of Puerto Rico, and our brothers and sisters throughout the Caribbean who are still working to recover from the severe devastation by Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year,” said DiNapoli.
In addition to celebrating the achievements of the awardees, DiNapoli made a point to discuss his office’s push to create more chances for New Yorkers of all backgrounds. He says an increase of immigrants has positively affected the city’s economy, and he took a verbal shot at President Trump’s policies toward and handling of immigrant families intercepted at the Mexican border.
“The neighborhoods with the highest concentration of immigrants are experiencing economic growth that exceeds the citywide average,” he said. “For New York and America to prosper, it’s not about building walls and separating families — it’s really about opening new doors of economic opportunity for everyone and that’s what we are trying to do.”
Award recipient Hinds-Radix — who created an immigration program at District Council 37, the city’s largest municipal public employee union — echoed the comptroller’s sentiments, and explained that she now feels more motivated than ever to mobilize to protect New York’s immigrant communities.
“This is a significant award for me, particularly at this time,” she said. “Based on what’s going on in our nation, I’m really very energized. I believe things happen so we can wake up, and we need to start taking the positions we ought to take.”