New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer Tuesday evening honored two Caribbean entities in New York City and a Caribbean personality during his annual tribute to Caribbean nationals in recognition of Caribbean American Heritage Month in June.
Stringer honored the Manhattan-based Carib News newspaper, the Brooklyn-based Sesame Flyers International, Inc., and Mona V. Wyre Manigo, the Antiguan-born president of the Harlem-based Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society.
The elegant ceremony took place at the auditorium in the T-Building at the sprawling NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings Country, commonly known as Kings Country Hospital, in the heart of the Caribbean community in Brooklyn.
“Today, we know that immigrants make us stronger, and we’re proud our city is a beacon of hope for immigrants from around the world,” Stringer told patrons before bestowing the honors. “In fact, more than one-third of all New Yorkers today — 3.2 million of our neighbors — are immigrants. And right here in Brooklyn, from Canarsie and East New York to East Flatbush, Caribbean-American New Yorkers’ fierce work ethic, strong community and entrepreneurial spirit have become part of our very fabric.
“Our nearly 1 million Caribbean-Americans have made this city what it is today – immigrants from all over the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Virgin Islands, Guyana, Haiti, and so many more,” he added. “You’ve helped build our boroughs, you’ve lifted up our neighborhoods, and you’ve served New Yorkers as nurses, doctors, police officers, lawyers, firefighters and entrepreneurs.
“You’re our neighbors, friends, colleagues and family members,” Stringer continued. “You’re also the linchpin to our city’s economic success.”
Among other things, he said the “large and growing” Caribbean-American community in New York “shares their food, music and art that has opened the eyes of so many to vibrant cultures across the region.”
“Your communities have had so many successes and made our city a better place for everyone,” he said, stating that he is “working hard to make sure every New Yorker has a fair and fighting chance to make it in the city, such as fighting to protect and expand affordable housing, promote development on vacant lots, and expand Minority and Women-Owned Business (MWOB) participation in our economy.
“But we can’t do it alone,” he acknowledged. “If we want to achieve success, we need strong community partners. And that’s why today, we’re honoring three leaders in the city’s Caribbean-American community, who have worked to create real change and made a lasting impact on people’s lives.”
The New York City Comptroller lauded the Jamaican-born couple Karl B. and Faye A. Rodney for founding the New York Carib News 38 years ago “to fill a recognized void in communication of the growing Caribbean-American community.”
“Carib News was designed to provide consistent, timely, accurate, and reliable information of the Caribbean region and the Caribbean-American communities in the United States,” he said. “Additionally, their mission includes assisting in the assimilation process, and promoting the values and contributions of the community.”
The Rodneys expressed gratitude for the honor, telling patrons that they are deeply committed to providing pertinent information – “not fake news” – to the community.
Stringer said the mission of Sesame Flyers International, Inc. – renowned as the perennial Band of the Year champions in the West Indian American Day Carnival Association’s (WIADCA) Labor Day Carnival Parade on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn – is “to provide a range of youth development, cultural, social welfare and supportive services to individuals and families residing in Brooklyn, New York.
“Their goal of youth empowerment is achieved and maintained through carefully structured programs designed to address the needs of children, families and the broader community,” he said. “For more than a quarter century, residents of East Flatbush and Canarsie have relied on Sesame Flyers International Inc. for enriching year-round programing.”
Stringer said that, this year, more than 7,000 individuals will turn to Sesame Flyers for assistance, ranging from after-school programing, sports and physical activities, to job readiness programs, counseling for families in crisis and computer classes for older adults.
He said that Sesame Flyers International, Inc. is, “perhaps, most recognized, for their rich tradition of celebrating the culture of the Caribbean nations,” stating that the organization is a “13-time winner of the Large Band category in the West Indian American Labor Day Parade and proudly participate in World Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum exhibit, featuring the many cultures of the borough, where visitors can visit the Sesame Flyers Mas camp and try on different costumes.”
Curtis Nelson, the Trinidadian-born executive director of Sesame Flyers International, Inc. said he was “honored and humbled to be recognized by the Comptroller at this year’s Caribbean Heritage Month celebration.
“It feels really good to my entire agency to receive acknowledgment for all the hard work we’ve been doing throughout the years,” he told the reception. “Sesame Flyers understands that part of loving children means presenting them with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, technology and equipment that will prepare them for the challenges yet to come.”
Stringer said Wyre Manigo “supports her beloved Antiguan and Barbudan community as president of the Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society, a non-profit organization committed to serving the needs of Antiguans and Barbudans living in New York since 1934.
“In her capacity as president, she spearheads fundraisers and other charitable events to raise money to send books, clothing and computer tablets to schools with limited resources in Antigua and Barbuda,” he said.
Stringer noted that Wyre Manigo had collaborated with the Schomburg Center for the Research in Black Culture in Harlem in creating an exhibition that showcased the first 50 years of the Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society.
In 1969, Wyre Manigo migrated to the US, settling in Brooklyn seven years later. From 1980 until 2008, Stringer said she worked for an unidentified investment banking firm, as a member of its Executive Client Relations Department.
“For three decades, Mona witnessed the growth of New York City’s wealth management industry,” he said. “Upon retiring, she decided to volunteer at the Brooklyn Tourism Center, greeting hundreds of tourists from around the world.”
In addition, the comptroller said that Wyre Manigo has dedicated her time to volunteering for renowned Brooklyn-based organizations, such as the Blind Association, Caribbean Women’s Health Organization and the Brooklyn Book Festival.
She also mentors local public high school students, he said.
“To you, Comptroller Stringer and your staff, thank you,” said Wyre Manigo after receiving the Comptroller’s Proclamation. “And, as you continue to manage the finances of New York City, keep up the good work. You make us, New Yorkers, very proud.
“I have always been dedicated to serving my community,” she added. ‘Wherever I am, if I see others in need, I find a way to help.”
Before presenting the proclamations, Stringer asked for a moment’s silence in honor of the death of former Jamaica Prime Minister Edward Seaga, who died in a Miami hospital last Tuesday after battling cancer. He died on his 89th birthday.
Stringer noted that Seaga had helped to draft Jamaica’s constitution, after independence in 1962, “and led Jamaica through the 1980s, cementing his iconic status in the island’s history.”