Caribbean immigrants in Brooklyn celebrate their heritage

Students of the MS 354 School of Integrated Learning in Brooklyn get ready for their performance.
Photo by Dawn Plummer

There was no absence of the carnival spirit on Saturday afternoon at 1222 E 96th St. in Brooklyn. Since nothing has been done to celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month in the last two years due to shutdowns caused by COVID-19, the population of Caribbean immigrants in Canarsie and East Flatbush were eager to engage in the festive celebration of their Caribbean culture.

The colorful flags all beautifully mounted and representing the various Caribbean islands, were signs of the excitement that was spreading increasingly over the well-attended event. All kinds of West Indian flavorful and delectable homemade foods were everywhere with each country putting its best food on the table. According to State Senator Roxanne Persaud, many of the tasty and delicious dishes available were donations from local Caribbean restaurants. It was an exuberant evening for everyone there; the young and the old.

Persaud of the 19th Senate District and Assemblywoman Jaime Williams of the 59th Assembly District, collaborated in putting this event together. The Brooklyn officials hosted the celebrations during the Caribbean Heritage Month as they believe it was important to allow others to see the culture of the Caribbean and expose the next generation to the Caribbean culture also. “A different format can be just as viable as any other kind of celebration once it keeps the Caribbean culture alive,” Persaud said. What is important during Caribbean Heritage month is that the culture is highlighted.

Other public officials assisted in the event to give their constituents a chance to engage in some of the activities. The West Indies American Day Carnival, (WIADC) Chairwoman, Michelle Gibbs, assisted with the preparation in getting a repertoire of dancers with children from schools within the community and neighboring schools outside of the community. Support also came from various organizations associated with WIADC. Gibbs said that the event highlights the culture of the West Indies. “We remain strong, and the continuation of our culture is significant,” she added. She acknowledged that the children who performed were dancers who participated in their after-school programs. Part of the planning, she stated, was that the association would also like the New York City Board of Education to have some of the Caribbean arts, craft and culture included in the school curriculum in New York City.

Former New York City Councilwoman Una Clarke, who was among the many city and state officials in attendance, reminded the residents to become United States citizens and register to vote if they have not yet done so. “Let’s stick together and vote,” Clarke commented.