Borough President Adams, the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), and members of the Caribbean community celebrated Martin Luther King Junior’s legacy at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Jan 13.
Speakers at the event evoked the late civil rights activist and commemorated his fight for equal rights. Notable people included councilman Mathieu Eugene (D–Ditmas Park) and former councilwoman Dr. Una S. T. Clarke, mother of congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, who recalled her meetings with King and even credited some of her own achievements as a Caribbean immigrant in this country to King and Malcolm X.
“I was honored and privileged to have met Martin Luther King in person, face to face four times in my lifetime,” she said. “I am privileged to have met them and I am glad to have come to America just before the Civil Rights movement and be a part of students’ movement to make sure I cast my lot with my own, so getting into public office was the finish of work that I’ve done.”
Clarke also used the time to remind the youth that the fight the King fought is not over, but only evolving for the up and coming.
“On this day, it’s a day of reflection and now more than ever when we see what is happening in Washington, don’t think the battles we fought are all over — they are right in front of us,” said Clarke. “And for you the next generation sitting in this room, we thought we had done it all for you but now you will have to do it for us at our old age, so we can feel secure in the battles that we fought. Take on the baton and move it forward.”
But the borough president praised Clarke and also used the time to recall the Caribbean-American struggle immigrating to the United States. He also said people such as Clarke are great examples of success that can be reached, but serve to remind people to always acknowledge the fight the elders sought for the next generation.
“The reason she was successful in city council and able to catapult her daughter into congress, was not because she was early — she was already there building a legacy that people can stand on,” he said. “Many of you want to be revisionist and act like everything was always welcome — let me tell you it was mean and ugly for those from the Caribbean Diaspora and the way they were treated. It’s people and leaders like Dr. Clarke that demanded that America becomes true to what it said it was.”