Pols fete Clarkes on 80/50 gala birthday bash

Pols fete Clarkes on 80/50 gala birthday bash
First Lady Chirlane McCray addresses gala as Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, her daughter, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and Mayor deBlasio look on.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Una Clarke

An almost virtual Who’s Who in New York City politics on Dec. 7 feted ex-Councilwoman Dr. Una S.T. Clarke and her daughter, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, on their gala birthday bash at Dumbo Loft on Water Street, downtown Brooklyn.

The elder Clarke, 80, and the congresswoman, 50, were the “Toasts of the Town” at the grand celebration, dubbed “The Legacy and the Promise.”

Among the long list of politicians and elected officials at the event were: New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio; First Lady Chirlane McCray; Sen. Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY); Congressman Hakeem Jeffries; Public Advocate Letitia James; City Comptroller Scott Stringer; State Assemblymen Nick Perry and Walter Moseley; Assemblywomen-Elect Rodneye Bichotte and Latrice Walker; Councilmembers Robert Corney and Laurie Cumbo; and Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson.

“Dr. Clarke and Yvette represent the best of the city,” Stringer said. “There’s no way I’ll be comptroller if they were not with me.

“I said I have to pay tribute, because (the Clarkes) represent the aspirations of the City of New York,” Stringer said he told his three-year-old son, who had inquired where he was going as he left home for the event.

After noting that the city and the nation are undergoing “some real troubling times,” James said it was “Una Clarke who opened up the (glass) ceiling for our nation and this city.”

She described the elder Clarke as “the County Leader of Brooklyn,” adding: “If you want to pick a winner, go for Una Clarke.

“My sister, Yvette Clarke, we’re cut from the same cloth,” James added.

Bichotte, the first Haitian American to be elected to the State Legislature, said it was “a great honor and pleasure to celebrate the legacy of Una Clarke.

“It’s a great time to be elected through two women, who’ve been my advisors,” said Bichotte, who will be sworn-in in early January. “They’re two dynamic women who paved the way for so many of us. They have put Flatbush, they’re put Brooklyn, on the map.”

Walker, a former staffer at Clarke’s congressional office, who will also be sworn-in in January, said the congresswoman “paved the way (for her) to become the next Assemblywoman in the 55th AD (Assembly District in Brooklyn).”

Thompson, too, said the Clarkes supported him in his bid to unseat former District Attorney Charles Hynes, when “many elected officials ran in the different direction.

“Dr. Clarke and Yvette Clarke stood by me, and I’ll never forget that,” he said.

Leslie Clarke, Jr. described his mother’s political acumen as “relentless and almost ruthless optimism.”

“No matter what the number is, she believes we can get things done,” he said of Una Clarke, adding that his younger sibling “worked in every area,” including education.

“God was setting her up for political life,” he added of Yvette Clarke. “I trust no one in politics but my sister.”

Una Clarke told Caribbean Life afterwards that the celebration was “a novel idea.”

“We’ve had this close relationship,” she said, referring to her daughter. “We’ve always had this loving relationship as mother and daughter, which was easy for her to become my successor (as councilwoman for the 40th Council District in Brooklyn).”

Yvette Clarke then went to represent the 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn. After redistricting, it became the 9th Congressional District.

Besides other glowing tributes, “good food and dancing,” the event featured a video presentation of the Clarkes; a dance performance by Magda Marc, entitled “A Change is Gonna Come,” and a poem, “African Breed” by James Richmond.

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