As expected, a plethora of legislators – a virtual Who’s Who in New York politics – were on hand Monday for the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade.
They not only participated in the pre-parade breakfast at the Lincoln Terrace Court at Buffalo Avenue, at the beginning of the parade, but also marched along the long stretch to the Brooklyn Museum, near Grand Army Plaza.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul; New York City Mayor Eric Adams; US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; Congressional Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke and Stacey E. Plaskett; New York Attorney General Letitia James; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; a host of other elected officials in the boroughs; as well as diplomats from some Caribbean Consulates, capitalized on photo opportunities.
“I let you know how important this community is,” Hochul told patrons at the breakfast. “I let you know the vibrancy of the Caribbean community.“I’m, for the first time ever, launching a trade office,” she disclosed. “I look forward to visiting the Ambassador to Jamaica, Nick Perry (the Jamaican-born, former Assemblyman, who represented, for almost three decades, the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn).”
Adams noted that there was “not one shooting last night (in Brooklyn).
“Let’s continue what we’re doing,” he urged.
New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, who was appointed the 45th Police Commissioner of the City of New York by Mayor Adams in December of 2021, said she had explained to her fellow officers that “this is a celebration of culture.
“Thank you so much for this invitation, and I see you out there”, said Sewell, who was born and grew up in Long Island City, Queens, and previously served as the Nassau County Police Department’s Chief of Detectives.
“I say to the paradegoers and I say the biggest island is Brooklyn,” said Schumer to huge laughter. “This is a great day for immigrants and for kicking those Republicans in Washington.
“We may have the first senator and the first Speaker of the House from Brooklyn,” he added, referring not only to himself but also to Jeffries, who represents the 8th Congressional District in Brooklyn.
Jeffries noted that he has “two bad sisters in Congress – Congresswomen Clarke and Plaskett.
“It’s an honor to have Congresswoman Clarke to represent the largest Caribbean district in America,” he said. “Have a great day on the Parkway.”
Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District, thanked patrons “so much for abiding with this organization (the West Indian American Day Carnival Association – WIADCA, organizer of the Carnival).
“It’s a challenge in a changing landscape,” she added. “Election Day is coming up (in November). Go out and vote.”
After singing the soca hit, “Jump and Wave, Jump and Wave, It’s Carnival,” James noted it’s been “two years since this carnival.”
Then, she added: “No body is above the law – from the State House to the White House,” implicitly alluding to her office’s investigation of former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization.
Though he was under the weather, Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, participated in J’Ouvert before attending the parade.
“WIADCA is getting us on the Parkway after two years,” he said, thanking the NYPD for helping to maintain the peace.
“A lot of elected officials are here, we have to show WIADCA the money,” he added.
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said: “It’s critical we recognize the work of WIADCA,” adding that the Caribbean American community should benefit from the economic impact of the carnival.
“Thank you for what you do,” she said, referring to WIADCA. “Jump up (on the Parkway)!”
City Councilwoman Crystal Hudson, representative for the 35th Council District in Brooklyn, said the parade runs through her district.
“Be safe, be proud and be well, and be proud of our Caribbean heritage,” said Hudson, who traces her roots to Jamaica.
State Senator Zellnor Myrie, representative for the 20th Senate District in Brooklyn, presented a proclamation to Michelle Gibbs, the Guyanese-born WIADCA chair.
“Today is about liberation of people of African descent,” said Myrie, whose grandmother hailed from Jamaica.
Gibbs noted the 55th anniversary of WIADCA, asking the public to support the carnival.
“I just want to say to everyone, please be safe,” she added. “Please enjoy the carnival.”
Civil Rights Activist the Rev. Al Sharpton urged: “Let’s March together and vote together.”
Trinidadian Angela Sealey, former WIADCA chair, remembered the late Carlos Lezama, the WIADCA’s former president and founder, stating that it was Lezama who “placed the Caribbean community on the map.”
Among other elected officials who attended the parade were City and State legislators; the Borough Presidents of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx; members of the Judiciary; and the Consuls General of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.