Vincentian community, political activist is dead

Vincentian activist Moreen King-Anthony dead at 59 years.
Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood

Moreen King-Anthony, a Vincentian-born community and political activist in Brooklyn, who unsuccessfully contested the 41st Council District in Brooklyn in 2017, died at a hospice in Brooklyn on Friday. She was 59.

King-Anthony’s daughter, Marisha King, a Brooklyn resident, told Caribbean Life that her mother succumbed to cancer after she was diagnosed a few months ago.

King said her mother died at Calvary Hospice at 55th Street, between 1st and 2nd avenues.

“I feel bad,” she said, using other words, such as “numbness, disbelief, sad” to describe her feelings.

“I can’t believe it,” King added.

King-Anthony — who was a foundation member of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York – migrated to the New York over three decades ago.

She built a successful career in early childhood education, founding two daycare centers in the Brownsville and Bushwick sections of Brooklyn.

King-Anthony, a former East Flatbush, Brooklyn resident, served as executive director of Traditional Educational Centers until her “untimely demise,” according to Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood, chairperson of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, the SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) Diaspora Committee of New York and, by extension, the Vincentian Diaspora and SVG have lost yet another of its foremost community warriors,” Mason-Haywood told Caribbean Life, stating that King-Anthony, “will leave a void that will not be easily filled.

“It is truly with sad hearts that we join in mourning the loss of our dear sister, comrade and friend, Moreen King-Anthony,” she added. She was a selfless, quiet warrior who believed deeply in the power of the community.”

Mason-Haywood – who, in recent years, also lost her husband, Maxwell Haywood, her predecessor chair of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, to cancer – said King-Anthony was born the South Central village of Diamonds in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Jan. 18,1960.

She said King-Anthony was “a self-published author,” who “had the good fortune of seeing her first book come to fruition, with an author’s proof copy delivered to her on her most recent birthday in January 2019.”

King-Anthony, who held an associate’s degree in Human Services, bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and a Master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), worked with Victim Services for a while before founding her daycare centers, Mason-Haywood said.

She said the daycares “now provide exceptional services to over 300 children and their families, and provide jobs to over 30 people.

“She worked quietly, supporting numerous initiatives, and was especially fond of anything that supported the healthy growth and development of children and young people,” said Mason-Haywood, adding that King-Anthony was “a pioneer in the realm of early childhood education in the Caribbean and African American communities.

“She mentored numerous youths and supported many families,” she continued, stating that among those impacted by her mentorship is current Minister of Agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saboto Ceasar, who will deliver the eulogy at Mason-Haywood’s home-going service on Friday Feb. 15 at Nevsky Yablofkoff Memorial Chapels, 1700 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn.

Marisha King said her mother had converted to Judaism on migration to New York.

Mason-Haywood said King-Anthony’s long-standing commitment and loyalty to the community was “evident throughout the work she did.”

She said King-Anthony served as a member of Community Board 17 for over five years.

Along with other colleagues in early childhood education, King-Anthony co-founded the Private Child Care Owners Coalition (PCOC), serving as president, Mason-Haywood said.

She said King-Anthony was also co-chair of the Bushwick Community Partnership Program (CPP).

In 2017, Mason-Haywood said King-Anthony ran “a formidable race” for a seat in the 41st City Council District in the Democratic primary.

King-Anthony came fourth in the race that involved nine candidates, receiving 922 votes, or 8.51 percent.

Her compatriot, Royston “Uncle Roy” Antoine, formerly of the town of Layou, placed sixth, receiving 620 votes, or 5.72 percent.

Lawyer Alicka Ampry-Samuel, who won the primary and went on to win the general elections, garnered 3,385 votes, or 31.23 percent.

Mason-Haywood said King-Anthony contributed to numerous initiatives in the Vincentian community in New York, including support for the Friends of Argyle International Airport fundraising group, Dynamite Calypso Tent judging, children’s Christmas parties and food donations to the elderly.

“She would often talk about her strong belief in the power of the community, which was grounded in her early experiences with community elders like (the late) Oscar Allen, Erlene Horne and Simeon Greene,” Mason-Haywood said.

“Moreen was not confined by labels or definitions,” she added. “So, although she could be called a Pan-Africanist, she also took on the Japanese name Mistu, which means to shine or reflect. What she reflected was pure light and love.”

As a foundation member of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, King-Anthony was “integral to the successful implementation of numerous activities, including a Diaspora Conference in 2012 and the institutionalization of the celebration of International Migrants Day in SVG, with the observance of Diaspora Week,” according to Mason-Haywood.

She said King-Anthony spearheaded these celebrations, adding that, under her leadership, the week included church services, development tours, Diaspora Nine Mornings, a sip and chat and a “beach lime.”

Mason-Haywood said it was through King-Anthony’s dedication that one of the first tours by returning Vincentian nationals was arranged to the construction site of the Argyle International airport.

Most recently, even in the late stages of her life, in November 2018, she arranged for the shipment of about 10 barrels to be sent to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to be used for children’s Christmas parties in her home village and in Troumaca, in the North Leeward constituency, where her husband, Michael Anthony, was born, Mason-Haywood said.

She said the shipment also included items for a food basket distribution to the elderly in Rose Hall, in North Leeward, a community adopted by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York through its partnership with the Rose Hall Cultural and Development Organization.

“Moreen leaves a rich legacy of service,” Mason-Haywood said. “Moreen King was a deeply spiritual woman who practiced Judaism but was also rooted in the rich African Baptist tradition.

“Moreen’s mortal remains will be laid to rest in Brooklyn, but her legacy and quiet warrior spirit will live on forever,” she added. “Rest well comrade.”

Besides Marisha King and Michael Anthony, King-Anthony is survived by numerous family and friends, including her son, Murray King, and grandson Kwesi, 3.

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