Brooklyn Borough President, Antonio Reynoso, on Aug. 11, commemorated the 60th Anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, noting it was an honor to be celebrating with the nationals at the people’s house.
“Brooklyn is home to the largest “Trinbagonian” community in the world outside of the islands,” said the newly elected Dominican American who quipped that he will celebrate his first J’ouvert and West Indian carnival as BP.
The ceremony, hosted in the courtroom, adorned with carnival costumes, and the red, white, and black Trinidad & Tobago flag in the backdrop, honored compatriots for their exceptional work in the community.
Steelpan awards, designed/sponsored by Angela Cooper, and Citations, Proclamations, and Certificates from BP Reynosa Rep. Clarke, Sen. Myrie, and PA Williams, were presented to, Carlton Gray (Exemplary Educator Award of Excellence), Daniel L Beckles MD. PhD. (Medical & Philanthropic Award of Excellence), Gary Alexander Pierre Entertainer Award of Excellence) Janet E. Larghi, MPA, CTRS, (Honorary Trinbagonian Humanitarian Award), Valerie McLeod-Katz (Distinguished Arts & Cultural Award of Excellence), Kenrick G. Faustin (Outstanding Arts & Cultural Award of Excellence), Lynette Richardson (Outstanding Community Advocate Award of Excellence), Jean Alexander (Visionary & Cultural Ambassadorial Award of Excellence).
Others include Michael YoungLao (Eminent Arts & Cultural Award of Excellence) and Kurt Bartholomew (Healthcare Hero Award of Excellence).
BP Reynoso congratulated the honorees, and thanked Angela Cooper, CEO and founder, The Coral Reef Experience, NYC Health+Hospitals McKinney, Yolanda Lezama, Carlos Lezama Archives and Caribbean Cultural Center (CLACC-C), for celebrating at Borough Hall, and credits Mayor Eric L Adams, for making it a tradition for nationals to feel welcomed in the people’s house.
“It was started by my predecessor, who is now the mayor of the city of New York. My brother for the last seven months who has been gracious, assisting me in any way needed. It has been a tough time in New York City for the last two and a half years of isolation and darkness,” noted the politician, adding, “it is very hard to bring people together into the light after a time like that.”
“We have been fighting very hard for our city and our mayor is trying very hard to get New York into a renaissance and back to where it has to be,” he said, before welcoming Mayor Adams to the podium.
“Brooklyn is an important place. I always say, 47 percent of Brooklynites speak English as a language other than from home in this community where diversity is our strength. You are celebrating your independence from 1962. I am proud to be here celebrating with you, 60 years of independence,” said the politician, who recalled visiting Trinidad, and enjoying the beauty of the country, and spirit of the people.
“I cannot say enough about what you have contributed to this great country. The recipients of today’s awards personify what the entire community has brought to the city for so long.”
“The bond between Trinidad and Tobago and New York City is real, we are proud of it and will continue to sustain it,” said Mayor Adams who lauded the exceptional contributions of the late Carlos Lezama, whose name is memorialized in the Caribbean Cultural Center.
“Carlos is what this community is all about. He was the president of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, (WIADCA) for so many years, I remember “masing” up the parkway as a little boy and enjoying what it had to offer. People like Carlos make New York great. It’s the way he combined culture in our lives together.”
“Congratulations to our honorees, congratulations to this rich community and congratulations to our great borough president for continuing the spirit of making this the people’s house. Let us enjoy this year but be safe in our city,” advised Mayor Adams.
“On behalf of Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, and all Jamaicans, Dr. Una S. T. Clarke, extended congratulations, and acknowledged the partnership of Caribbean countries, known as CARICOM.
“To the honorees I know you all deserve the honor you will receive today, your work is felt and known in New York, and I thank you for your contribution,” said Clarke.
Consulate General of Trinidad & Tobago in New York, Andre Laveau in turn, thanked BP Reynoso, and Deputy BP Diana Richardson, and acknowledged the kind words expressed by Mayor Adams.
He also thanked Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Dr. Una S. T. Clarke, and the Carlos Lezama Archives & Caribbean Cultural Center (CLACC-C), before congratulating his homeland on its striking auspicious milestone.
“Trinidad and Tobago, is emerging from its biggest ever national crisis from the global pandemic, coupled with economic shock.
“As a country, and as a people the passport to take us from the present stage to the next will be stamped with thankfulness,” he said on “World Steelpan Day,” and announced the consulate’s new logo that says “Thankful and Thriving.”
“As a nation existing on mainly two tiny islands, we continue to achieve in the face of great odds, and despite formidable challenges,” he noted, quoting Mark Twain’s “Independence is loyalty to one’s best self and principles.”
Trinidad and Tobago remains full of character as we find ways to produce what is best for ourselves, added Laveau.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said “we must celebrate what Trinidad & Tobago has contributed to this city, what Lezama has done for this borough and this city and applauded the legacy that carried on to 60 years.
“Their contributions cannot be understated and anytime I can celebrate, I will do so. Congratulations to the entire Trinidad and Tobago community, all the honorees and everyone who is here to celebrate ‘sweet T&T.’”
The colorful, magnificent presentation, attended by Assemblymember Jaime Williams, Kelly McGarrity, Target, Brooklyn DA’s office, representative, Karen Crawford, and Angela Sealy of WIADCA, opened with a procession of the honorees, led by flag bearer Gerald Placid. Dr. Jean Leon blessed the gathering, before young Jaxon Romeo recited the National Pledge of Trinidad and Tobago, and Samuel Clarke sang the anthem.
The excellent emceeing duties performed by Angela Cooper (who sang the US Anthem) and Yolanda Lezama-Clark, kept the audience entertained, with Donnica Hamlet’s Reflective Movements, the Medgar Evers College High School Prep Dancers, the Raging Fire Tassa, and the infectious “Sweet T&T” rhythm by Natasha Wilson-Jean, that got the audience on its feet.
A superb musical tribute of song and dance titled: “Congo belle” produced by the incomparable, world-renowned, Michael Manswell and the Something Positive Company Members closed the curtains on an evening of excellence.
The CARICOM Consular Corps included Mackie Holder, Barbados, Jeremiah Hyacinth, St. Lucia, Sheldon Peter Anthony, Dominica, and Leroy F. Major, Bahamas among others. Honoree, Carlston Gray, delivered the vote of thanks.