Caribbean Week 2003, a week-long series of events organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) in New York City, has helped focus attention on the contribution that Caribbean nationals have made to the development of the city.
New York City representatives have used the occasion to stress that the Caribbean has provided immense talent and skill to the city, with at least one official making a strong plea for Caribbean immigrants to take their “rightful place” as Americans.
“As immigrants we are a part of this nation. We made our contribution from the founding of this nation and we need to claim our right to be Americans,” said Una Clarke, a Jamaica-born former New York City councilwoman who now works in the Mayor’s office as director of the Brooklyn Community Network of the Empire State Development Corporation.
Ms. Clarke spoke at a ceremony to launch CTO’s
Caribbean Fair in Bowling Green Park, America’s oldest municipal park which lies across from the Alexander Hamilton building which houses the Smithsonian National Museum of American Indians.
“Alexander Hamilton (was) a Caribbean American so we’ve made our contribution,” she said of the Nevis-born, St. Croix-raised Hamilton, who was the first secretary of state of the US treasury and who Art Picolo, president of the Bowling Green Association described as “the greatest immigrant is the history of America.”
C. Virginia Fields, Manhattan Borough president, highlighted some of the areas where Caribbean nationals have excelled in the city.
“The Caribbean Tourism Organisation is extremely important, not only in terms of promoting the interest of traveling throughout the Caribbean but also in terms if highlighting the tremendous contributions that we make here every day, not only in government but in business, academia, culture and art,” said Ms. Fields.
The City’s highest elected representative, Mayor Michael Bloomberg summed it up in a Mayoral Proclamation declaring June 1-7 Caribbean Week in New York.
“Wherever Caribbean immigrants have settled in our city, neighborhoods have prospered due to their significant contributions,” the proclamation read.
“Caribbean culture has profoundly influenced our city. New York City is grateful to the Caribbean Community for these contributions and this week we congratulate this hard-working community for enriching our city and for sharing their culture with all New Yorkers,” it stated.
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