Brooklyn gives Perry rousing send-off

Nick Perry and Sen. Schumer converse on stage.
Photo by Nelson A. King

An almost Who’s Who in Brooklyn politics, as well as hundreds of supporters and well-wishers were present Saturday night, as the Brooklyn community gave Jamaican-born Assemblyman, N. Nick Perry a rousing send-off as the new United States ambassador to Jamaica.

 Perry, who was expected to be officially installed on Monday by the US Department of State as the new envoy to Jamaica, hosted Saturday night’s gala celebration, at the Holy Family (Catholic) Church Auditorium, on Flatlands Avenue in Canarsie, Brooklyn, as a “Community Thank You.”

Among the dignitaries were on hand Saturday night were: US Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer, who recommended Perry for the position; Congressional Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants; New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli; New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; and State Assembly Member Latrice Walker.

Others were: New York State Sen. Roxanne Persaud, a Guyanese national; Council Member Mercedes Narcisse, the Haitian-born representative for the 46th Council District in Brooklyn; Monique Chandler-Waterman, the daughter of Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants, who is vying to replace Perry as representative for the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn; and Jamaica Consul General to New York Alsion Roach Wilson.

A section of the audience at the send-off event for N. Nick Perry as the new United States ambassador to Jamaica. Photo by Nelson A. King

Narcisse served as Mistress of Ceremonies until the arrival of the official Master of Ceremonies, the retired Jamaican-born Rev. Canon, Calvin C. McIntyre, who trekked from Jamaica specifically for that role.

Rev. McIntyre, Perry’s close friend and school mate at Kingston College, had the stellar crowd in stitches with jokes.

“You have to be careful being an MC these days, because your life is in danger,” he said to loud laugher, intimating about Will Smith’s slap on Chris Rock, who served as Master of Ceremonies at the recent Emmy Awards, for Rock’s joke about Smith’s wife.

Haitian-born Felina Backer sings ‘Order Your Steps.’ Photo by Nelson A. King

In addition to speeches and blessings from the diverse clergy, there were moving renditions by Haitian-born Felina Backer, and dance performances.

“Nick is the most qualified person to be Ambassador to Jamaica,” said Schumer, stating that he first met the legislator in 1992 when he (Schumer) was a congressman. “When Nick appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, even some Republicans said ‘you made the best choice.’

“The Caribbean dream is the American dream,” he added. “He (Perry) came to America, enlisted in the Armed Forces, served on the Community Board and has won every election since in the (New York State) Assembly.

“We’re so proud he’ll be Ambassador to Jamaica,” Schumer continued.

A Haitian dancer performs at Nick Perry’s send-off. Photo by Nelson A. King

DiNapoli said Perry has “distinguished himself as an advocate.”

“When he goes to Jamaica, representing the United States, the people of Jamaica are going to listen,” he said. “Nick will be an extraordinary representative for our country.”

Jeffries, who represents the 8th Congressional District, encompassing parts of Brooklyn and Queens, described Perry as “a good man; a hard-working man; an educated man; and, as of Monday, he’ll be a State Department man.

“I’m thankful for your support,” Jeffries told Perry, who was besides him on stage. “Nick Perry has made history. And so, the best is yet to come.

“The friendship with the US and Jamaica will only be enhanced. God bless Nick Perry.”

Congresswoman Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, said she knew about “the work, the labor that Nick Perry has put in the community.

“We (congressional representatives) sent a letter and said that we’re not entertaining anybody else (for ambassador to Jamaica),” she said, disclosing that 16 years ago, when she was first running for Congress, Perry withdrew from the race and backed her.

“Now, he’s ascending to Jamaica, I’m the senior (legislator) from Brooklyn,” Clarke added. “We get so much visa applications, you have nothing to worry about (laughter). We have a direct line.

“Let me just say, congrats Assemblyman Perry,” she continued. “That was a dream we all shared.”

Roach Wilson said: “We’re all proud of Nick. We’re extremely proud that Nick will be representing us in Jamaica.

“Nick is already on the job,” she added.

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, right, reads from proclamation honoring Nick Perry. Photo by Nelson A. King

Williams honored Perry with a proclamation and Walker, who sat next to Perry in the State Assembly, presented him with a pocket watch.

“She’s doing a good job,” Perry told the audience about Walker. “I’m pleased to accept this token.”

Perry’s children, Novalie and Nickolas, Jr., said they were “very proud” of their dad.

“What I learned from my dad is integrity,” said Novalie, a lawyer. “The values he has instilled in me show that, with integrity, you don’t have to take steps (applause).”

“This is a great moment for everyone,” Nickolas, Jr. said. “Thank God for your blessings, and I’m so proud to be your son.”

Last Thursday, Schumer said he has held discussions with Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness during his visit to the US, stating that they “talked about being proud to represent a state (New York) with the largest Jamaican American population in the country and the largest Jamaican Diaspora.”

Schumer said they also talked about US President Joe Biden selecting Perry to serve as the US Ambassador to Jamaica and how Perry’s ambassadorship “will only bolster the strong bonds that the US and Jamaica already share.”

“It was great meeting with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness,” Schumer told Caribbean Life.

Haitian dancers perform for Nick Perry. Photo by Nelson A. King

“Over the course of Jamaica’s 60 years of independence, our two nations, and the State of New York, have fostered strong bonds that will only be strengthened when Ambassador Nick Perry’s service begins,” he added. “New York has the largest Jamaican American Diaspora. and I am so proud to represent them, and to have recommended Nick Perry, the first Jamaican-born American, to serve as our ambassador.”

Perry said he is supporting Monique Chandler-Waterman, as his successor.

“I’m proud to support Monique to be the next assemblymember, and I know the district will be in good hands,” he told Caribbean Life. “She is a natural leader in every sense of the word, and her roots go deep in this community.

“Monique is the best of us, and she will fight to make sure everyone has access to quality public schools, affordable housing and community-based health care,” he added.

Chandler-Waterman, a lifelong resident of the East Flatbush, Canarsie and Brownsville communities in Brooklyn, said she was “so honored” to receive Perry’s support.