It is unlikely there will be a parade, dancing in the streets or even a ceremonial proclamation presentation to mark the 11th annual weeklong celebration of Immigrant Heritage Week but from April 17 to April 24 New York City will record another milestone anniversary of the historic period the most immigrants crossed Ellis Island.
Established in 2004, the period “celebrates the histories and contributions of New York City’s diverse immigrant communities.”
As a matter of fact, according to the official NYC web portal “Every year, NYC celebrates Immigrant Heritage Week (IHW’15) and “this year, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will use IHW’15 as a platform to celebrate, promote and bring awareness to this historic moment in our country’s history.”
“This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act which eliminated race-based quotas in the country’s immigration laws and is widely viewed as a victory for civil rights. The law was perceived as an extension of civil and human rights values beyond the country’s borders. This legislation has also heavily contributed to the vibrant diversity that we see in NYC and the United States today.”
The city’s focus will be delivered through a series of coordinated events that will include a series of panel discussions focusing on the outcomes of the legislation, and the current movement to advance another wave of progressive immigration reform.
The site further informs that “the recognition of this historic legislation, and properly couching immigration reform as a Civil Rights issue is aligned with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of making NYC inclusive of all New Yorkers and highlights the city’s standing as a national leader in this work.”
Caribbean nationals will offer a perspective on the diversity and complexities of being Caribbean by tackling the topic “When does one become ‘American?’’during a literary presentation beginning 3:30 p.m. at Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn.
“Generation Here! — Native Born Immigrants” kicks off a discussion on April 19 with readings and conversation by four writers of Caribbean descent. Together they will “tackle some of the nettlesome, multilayered realities of migration, heritage, identity, and belonging.”
Lively conversations will delve into areas focusing on ‘Who is native or immigrant?’ and question ‘Where exactly is home?’
Featured participants include writers Nyasha Laing, (US/Belize) Annette Vendryes Leach (US/Panama), poets Negus Tehuti Adeyemi (US/Barbados) and El David Rodriguez (Puerto Rico).
Organizers and supporters of the Caribbean Cultural Theatre agree the occasion provides an opportunity to fulfill their mission of “Tellin We Own Story.”
A spokesperson said: “Always an occasion for taking stock and renewing creative energies.”
To that effort they have combined programs acknowledging IHW, Poetry Month and World Theatre Day to make this a significantly unique event.
A second offering for the celebratory week begins at 6:30 p.m. on April 29 at York College, 94-20 Guy Brewer Blvd., Jamaica, Queens with ‘Caribbean Classics – Legacy and the Search for Voice.’
“This year marks the 85th birthday of Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott (St. Lucia), and Kamau (Barbados), the 80th for Earl Lovelace (Trinidad & Tobago), and the 75th for Trevor Rhone (Jamaica).”
“In celebration of the legacy of arguably the Commonwealth Caribbean’s most illustrious, pioneering Caribbean playwrights we embark on a series of creative conversations with contemporary creative artists in search of the New Caribbean Theatre.”
For more information about both programs, call 718-270-6218 / 718-783-8345.