The office of Brooklyn District Attorney, Eric Gonzalez on June 29 hosted an inaugural Caribbean American Heritage celebration packed with vibrancy and pride, in the garden of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, where nationals were acknowledged with Citations of Honor, for their exceptional contributions to the community.
The honorees are – Jamaican-born Lowell Fitzgerald Hawthorne (posthumous) late president and chief executive officer of Golden Krust Caribbean Restaurant, the nations, largest Caribbean franchise in the world. The honor was accepted by widow Mrs. Lorna, and son, Omar. Barbados native Honorable Sylvia Hinds-Radix, 81st corporation counsel of the City of New York, attorney for the City of New York, the mayor, the City Council, and all city agencies. Haitian-born Inspector Caby Celiba, commanding officer, NYPD 67th Precinct, Haitian American sisters, Wendy Jules, Registered Nurse, co-owner & founder of Fleur De Lis Beauty & Esthetics, and Carla Nelson, Registered Nurse, Licensed Medical Esthetician, co-owner, and founder of Fleur De Lis Beauty.
DA Gonzalez, who became the first Latino elected to serve in the nation’s largest, most diverse, and innovative prosecutors’ offices said, “it’s my privilege and honor to be your District Attorney in the greatest borough in the greatest city of America. I appreciate all of you coming together to celebrate our first Caribbean heritage at the Brooklyn DA’s office.”
He thanked Stephanie Hill Wilchfort, president & CEO of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and Rev. Edward-Richard Hines president of God Squad, for serving as emcee, and expressed what a tremendous honor it was to be celebrating Caribbean heritage.
“My family is from Puerto Rico and every year our office marches in the West Indian Day Parade but I’m grateful that June has now been dedicated to share this cultural celebration with this community. We represent so many different islands, but the culture is the same and the experiences are very similar, these are communities that have suffered through slavery and colonialism, and segregation,” he said, adding that the resilient citizens came to New York City and to America for a better life.
He said it is unimaginable to think that Brooklyn could be without Caribbean communities. “It would not be the same borough without all the contributions that we’ve made here.”
The politician noted that his mom made sure he had a good education and the reason he is doing the things he has been doing, with the support of the Caribbean Community.
“I’m sure a lot of you had that same experience in your families the first one came over and you bring others to New York and to the United States, but Brooklyn has been indelibly enriched with the life of Caribbean Americans in New York City,” said DA Gonzalez.
He thanked Judge Sylvia Hinds-Radix while handing over a Citation of Honor, for her exceptional achievements and groundbreaking contributions to the legal profession of the city of New York, and all the other honorees for their distinguished service to their communities.
Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries called DA Gonzalez a good friend, to him, “to our public safety, to equality, to justice, to fairness, and a good friend to making our quality of life what it should be in this great borough, and so we’re thankful to you Eric, to the honorees, to my colleagues who are here Stefani and Monique who do a tremendous job representing us in the New York State assembly.”
“To all of you who have come out to celebrate this incredibly important Caribbean Heritage month, as you know, Yvette Clarke and myself, my colleague from the neighboring Congressional District, represent the largest number of Caribbean Americans anywhere in the United States of America and I’m thankful for that.”
“It’s a great honor it’s something that I’m proud of and I know from my own experience growing up just down the block and now representing such a vibrant Caribbean American community. I say this everywhere that I go across the nation – it’s a hard-working, entrepreneurial family oriented spiritually connected community, and y’all cook great food what a combination,” he quipped.
“You are part of the fabric of our borough of our city of our country of the success that we have, of the success that we will continue to have as we move forward so thank you for what you represent thank you for the work that you put in on behalf of our families and our communities and our great borough and I know that together the Caribbean American community helping to lead the way that the best is yet to come god bless each and every one,” said Jeffries.
Assemblymember Stefani L. Zinerman, thanked DA Gonzalez, as someone who is intentional about having partnerships, and acknowledged ML Hakeem Jeffries and all the leaders present, thanking them for their service.
Assemblywoman, Monique Chandler-Waterman, noting that she was carrying on the work of Nick Perry, thanked DA Gonzalez for his partnership in community development, jobs, and affordable housing in the 58 Assembly district.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, we are one Caribbean, we are one community, we must stand together united, we have a great district attorney, and a soon to be speaker of the House in Congress, and Assemblymember Zinerman, but if we are not working together we cannot move the community forward, we must have unity in the community,” said Assemblywoman Chandler-Waterman.
Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse said DA Gonzalez knows the importance of the Caribbean culture, and he has the connection to serve everyone in Brooklyn where folks are from all over. “We are all brothers, as we look for opportunity for each other,” she said.
The NYPD received blessings from Rev. Edward-Richard and were applauded for their exceptional work as they lead the charge to serve and protect.
The pulsating, sweet sounds of Trinidad & Tobago, from Soca artists, Keith “Ajala” Sutherland and Richard Burton, topped with an infectious mix from Haitian Deejay Kev, filled the air during the evening that celebrated the Caribbean’s rich cultural heritage.
A wonderful performance by Genesis Youth Steelpan, stilt walkers, and nationals dancing in the garden, ended the impressive event that was commemorated under the theme: One Caribbean people, Celebrating Unity in Diversity.
Thanks was extended to Karen Crawford-Chambers, DA Gonzalez’s Office, Brooklyn BK Bar & Grill, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Roti on the Run, Police Athletic League, Prospect Park Alliance, Sheryl Décor, and many others.