United States Vice President Kamala Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father, on Monday swore in former New York State Assembly Member N. Nick Perry as the first Jamaican-born US ambassador to Jamaica.
According to Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer, who had pushed President Joe Biden to appoint Perry to the position, Harris administered the oath in her ceremonial office, flanked by Schumer, Perry’s wife, Joyce; their children Nickolas and Novalie; and Perry’s sister, Pauline Perry.
“I’m proud to announce that former New York State Assembly Member Nick Perry has been sworn in as US Ambassador to Jamaica,” Schumer told Caribbean Life on Tuesday. “Perry has dedicated his life’s work to serving his constituents in the 58th District (in Brooklyn), and has fostered many deep and lasting cultural, economic and political connections between the United States and Jamaica. And that experience will make him an outstanding ambassador.
“Born and raised in Jamaica, Ambassador Perry — a US. Army vet (veteran) — has a unique perspective and understanding of Jamaica that will benefit both the United States and Jamaica in their deep and abiding partnership,” he added. “The bottom line is that there is no one better prepared to go ‘Down Yard’ (Jamaica) and represent the United States of America than Nick Perry, and I am very happy to have supported his nomination.
“I was so happy to help swear in Nick Perry as the Ambassador to Jamaica with Vice President Harris — herself the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant,” Schumer continued.
Perry, who migrated to the US in 1971, served in the US Army for two years of active duty and four years on reserve status.
After military service, Perry earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Master of Arts in public policy and administration — both from Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY).
He was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 1992 to represent the 58th Assembly District and was re-elected to serve his 15th consecutive term in November 2020.
Perry was the assistant speaker pro tempore of the New York State Assembly and regional vice chairman of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
He served on the New York Assembly Committees on Rules; Ways & Means; Codes; Banks; Labor; and Transportation.
Perry was also the former chairman of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.
In late March, an almost Who’s Who in Brooklyn politics, as well as hundreds of supporters and well-wishers, were present, as the Brooklyn community gave Perry a rousing send-off as the new US envoy to Jamaica.
Perry hosted the 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 were Schumer; Congressional Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants; New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli; New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants; and State Assembly Member Latrice Walker.
Others were: New York State Senator Roxanne Persaud, the Guyanese-born representative for the 19th Senate District in Brooklyn; Council Member Mercedes Narcisse, the Haitian-born representative for the 46th Council District in Brooklyn; and Jamaica Consul General to New York Alsion Roach Wilson.
“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,” continued Schumer, disclosing that he had held discussions with Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness during his recent 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 President 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.”
Perry said he was “proud” to support Monique Chandler-Waterman, the daughter of Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants, as his successor in the 58th Assembly District, adding that “the district will be in good hands.
“She is a natural leader in every sense of the word, and her roots go deep in this community,” he told Caribbean Life.
“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.
In early April, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a proclamation declaring that a special election will be held on May 24 to fill the 58th Assembly District seat vacated by Perry.
“Ambassador Nick Perry has led an illustrious career, and, with his distinguished appointment, he continues his trajectory forward,” the governor said. “We wish him all the best in his new role as US Ambassador to Jamaica.
“New Yorkers deserve to be represented in the fullest capacity, and an election to fill the ambassador’s seat is necessary to ensure their voices are heard,” Hochul added. “I look forward to working with the next elected leader and encourage people living in the 58th District to get out and vote.”