Community Organizations Emancipation Festivals

Celebration of Emancipation

The Committee for the Commemoration of Emancipation Day is inviting everyone to join in the commemoration and internationalizing of Emancipation Day.

This event would be on August 4th, 2012 at Prospect Park, Oriental Pavilion, Brooklyn New York.

Start time is 2:00pm, with a short parade beginning at the corner of Parkside and Flatbush Aves., and entering the park at Lincoln Road and Ocean Ave.  There would be a spiritual and cultural component to the event.

No matter where you are from, whether it is the Caribbean Islands, North or South America, bring your country’s Flag and make this a family day.

Emancipation of the slaves is the Ancestors and our business.

Thanks to the the Committee for the Commemoration of Emancipation Day for the information.


Community Organizations

Not Just Mas and Pan

Mr. Winston Munroe gives an overview of the Sesame Flyers International organization, its activities, the services it provides, and its overall impact within the Caribbean community in Brooklyn, New York.


West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade Roars Through Brooklyn!

The following report was written by Saxon Baird and published on The Official Blog of Afropop Worldwide on Sept. 6th 2001.

While the rest of America was enjoying an extra day off with barbecues and baseball, Brooklyn was celebrating its Caribbean population with the 44th Annual West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade. The event is the biggest Carnival parade in North America and featured its usual, colorful array of floats stacked with speakers blaring the best in soca and new calypso, sparking carnival costumes and thousands of flags representing every country of the West Indies. Even Mayor Bloomberg and the “Rent is Too Damn High” pseudo-celebrity Jimmy McMillan made an appearance.

Roaring down Eastern Parkway, a boulevard that splits Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and parts of Brownsville and Bed-Stuy; over a million people had flocked to the parade by noon sporting colors, shirts and face-paint of showcasing their country of origin. Hundreds of Caribbean barbecue restaurants set up tents and grills in between tables of trinkets ranging with bracelets with the colors of countries flags to handmade art and t-shirts.

While the parade took place on Monday, the festivities really started on Friday with concerts at the Brooklyn Museum with such celebrated acts as Benjai, the Mighty Sparrow and David Rudder. On Saturday, a smaller children’s parade took place in Crown Heights while J’ouvert begin late on Sunday and marched throughout Brooklyn until sunrise as it traditionally does each year.

The origins of the parade go back to a 1947 Carnival Parade that took place in Harlem along 110th and 7th. In 1965, the carnival relocated to Crown Heights where it has existed and taken place each year since.

Unfortunately, the Labor Day festivities this weekend were slightly overshadowed by a sudden, and unexplainable outbreak of shootings. By Monday, over 39 people had been shot across New York City since Saturday. Despite just a few, minor incidences at the parade, the general vibe throughout was positive and jovial with people there looking to simply celebrate the end of summer with great music, food and dancing while refusing to let the few ruin this long held tradition for the many.

For the original report see: The Official Blog of Afropop Worldwide: West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade Roars Through Brooklyn!.


Mas’ in yuh Mas: Brooklyn’s Caribbean Carnival


Mas’ in New York

Every Labor Day, since the mid-sixties, Brooklyn New York has played host to the masquerade, pulsating rhythmic sounds, and free-spirited abandon that exudes from the West Indian Carnival. From a solitary procession, the event has grown to festivities that occupy the entire weekend that leads into the first monday in September. In addition to the Parade of Bands on the Eastern Parkway, the early morning Jouvay has long become a staple of the Labor Day bacchanal. Additionally, on the preceding Saturday, the young aspiring masqueraders hold court when the bands in the Children’s Carnival wind their way to the Brooklyn Museum, where – later in the evening – the clash of steel in the annual Panorama Competition can be heard ringing through the Brooklyn landscape. For the hundreds of thousands of Caribbean migrants, who have made New York their home over the last century, this annual celebration bears significance of immense proportions.

Brief History

The Carnival celebrations held in Brooklyn today are not the first of this type in New York. The Caribbean-style masquerade was initiated by the migrants from the Caribbean isles, who came to the New York metropolis in the first half of the the last century. Jesse Waddell, a Caribbean woman from Trinidad, is recognized as the individual responsible for the introduction of this type of celebrations. A musician, who came to the New York in the early 1920s, she hosted masquerade balls during the 1930s and early ’40s in venues such as the Renaissance Ballroom in Harlem. Following World War II, Waddell, in conjunction with the West Indian Day Committee, gained permission from the City to host an outdoor Carnival parade in Harlem. This festival was successfully produced annually until 1964, when the permit was revoked.

This period witnessed the rise in popularity of calypso, the music of the West Indian Carnival, in New York and the American popular music industry. Guitarist Gerard Clarke and his Caribbean Serenders played on many calypso recordings and in venues such as the Vanguard. Pianist and bandleader Lionel Belasco worked with artistes like Sam Manning, actor and singer, and the calypsonian Houdini. Pianist Daphne Weekes, who arrived in New York in 1939, became known as the first woman to leader a calypso band, the Versatile Caribbean Orchestra, and actively participated in the Carnival up to her death in 2004. Also, there existed a steady flow of calypsonians, such as Phillips Garcia – Executor, Raymond Quevedo – Atilla the Hun, and Raphael de Leon – Roaring Lion, all of whom recorded and performed in New York; as well as the Lord Invader, Rupert Grant. His calypso composition, Rum and Coca Cola, gained international prominence from the popularity of the Andrew Sisters’ version, which later become the subject of legal action. The work of these and other artistes, together with the success of the calypso recordings and performances of Harry Belafonte in the1950s and 60s, contributed greatly to the respect these Caribbean artistic forms garnered during that period.

Carnival 2011

This years Carnival festivities will showcase 33 adult masquerade bands that will parade the Eastern Parkway route on the afternoon of Labor Day. The Children’s Carnival, hosted annually on the Saturday preceding, will be graced by the presence of 39 junior bands. The 2011 Steelband Panorama competition is themed “Pan in its Glory”, and will see the participation of 11 steel pan orchestras. This competition will highlight the work of a young crop of musical arrangers as the bands compete to dethrone defending champions Pan Sonatas, led by arranger Yohan Popwell.

Jouvay Steel from Ken Archer on Vimeo.

These events constitute the highlights of the New York Carnival celebrations. Together with all the parties, mas camps, steelband launches, calypso tents, and other activities, they are cherished in the Caribbean-American community as important spaces in which the artistic, cultural heritage of the Caribbean immigrants has been maintained and shared with their North American neighbors.