Brooklyn Borough President, Antonio Reynoso on May 25 celebrated Asian American, Native Hawaiian, & Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month with an evening of music and dance alongside more than 150 Brooklynites at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
The celebration of Brooklyn’s many AANHPI communities paid special tribute to the borough’s Southeast Asian cultures. Violinists Trina Basu and Arun Ramamurthy of the Brooklyn Raga Massive kicked off the evening with a blend of South Indian classical music, Western chamber music, and jazz.
First graders from P.S. 153 in Homecrest followed, singing “Try Everything,” by Shakira, while performing a dance choreographed by Erta Little Star. And the Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts closed out the evening’s performances, presenting a duet dance to a Bangla song titled ‘Anondo Dhara.’ The dance performance explored the theme of eternal bliss and the profound connection between the human spirit and nature, reflecting on the joyous flow of life’s experiences and celebrating the interconnectedness between individuals, the universe, and the divine. The dance was choreographed by Annie Ferdous and performed by Syeda Joty and Zarrin Maisha.
“Everything we can dream up for our city’s future is inspired by the stories and cultures that live within the people who call it home,” said Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso.
“I’m so excited that this month is all about celebrating our Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander neighbors’ heritage and vision for Brooklyn. This borough is at its best when we come together in appreciation of what makes us special and in recognition of what binds us as one: our love for Brooklyn. With these values held firmly within us, we can ensure our neighborhoods remain safe homes for all, free of hate and judgement and instead full of celebration and respect. Thank you to the many incredible artists, performers, students, local businesses, sponsors, and other partners who have made this evening possible.”
After welcoming guests to Borough Hall, Borough President Reynoso awarded proclamations and a citation to recipients who have gone above and beyond for their communities. The Borough President awarded proclamations to the APNA Brooklyn Community Center and to Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services. He also recognized Ashley Huang, the Director of the School-Age Child Care Center at P.S. 153 in Homecrest, with a citation for her dedication to empowering immigrant and low-income families to access necessary resources. Assembly Member Lester Chang provided remarks, followed by representatives from EmblemHealth, Ponce Bank, and Aetna.
For the evening’s closing reception, Jalsa Grill & Gravy in Brooklyn’s Little Pakistan provided Indian dishes including samosas, biryani, butter chicken, and naan; while SweetTalk in Gowanus provided Hawaiian dishes ranging from Spam musubi and shoyu chicken to kalua pork and lomi-lomi. Brooklyn Brewery provided beverages. The evening celebration was made possible by the partnership of the Chinese-American Planning Council and the support of Brooklyn for All, Inc., EmblemHealth, Ponce Bank, and Aetna.
“Our Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities bring immense strength, vibrancy, and rich culture to our City,” said Ann Marie Adamson-Serieux, EmblemHealth AVP of Community Affairs. “EmblemHealth is proud to support and honor the contributions of AANHPI individuals and families alongside the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office in our longstanding commitment to the health and wellness of New Yorkers.”
“We at Ponce Bank are so very pleased to join with Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso and with you in celebration of our diverse and vibrant Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander American (AAPI) neighbors throughout our great Borough of Brooklyn,” said Damaris Bergas-Misarti, assistant vice president, Community Affairs Manager at Ponce Bank.
“As you know out of the five boroughs, Brooklyn has the second-largest Asian population in the city – 370,776 people according to the 2020 Census results for New York City. In our Borough of Brooklyn the Asian population has grown by 110,647 over the past decade. AAPI Heritage Month is an annual tradition in Brooklyn, with a wide range of events celebrating our AAPI neighbors. It is important to note our City, our Borough of Brooklyn has long served as a beacon of hope for immigrants and marginalized communities who are looking for a safe haven and a land of new opportunities. Our AAPI neighbors make us stronger, more resilient and more innovative and we at Ponce Bank believe that this month brings great joy across Brooklyn, our City our State and nationwide in celebration of the rich heritage Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans have achieved and contributed.”
“At Aetna we are strong believers in investing in people’s health,” said Maria Delgado, senior manager of Community Development Strategy at Aetna. “Making it affordable and easier to access. We bring our heart at work!”