New York City: Little Guyana / Liberty Avenue  Co-naming Ceremony – By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

PHOTOS  and Article- Little Guyana / Liberty Avenue  Co-naming Ceremony By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

‘If you want the job done, hire a Guyanese,’ says NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio at Co-Naming Ceremony            

The Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio said that ‘if you want the job done, hire a cause for pride and celebration as hundreds braved the rains and turned up to witness the historic moment. It is no secret that Guyanese have made an indelible contribution to the development of Queens, and the City of New York. The Mayor was speaking at the ceremony to unveil the sign that co-named Liberty Avenue as Little Guyana Avenue.

Their numbers suggest that one is likely to find a Guyanese in every block in South-East Queens. Unofficial estimates say that there are at least 300,000 Guyanese in the New York Metropolitan and tri-State areas.

Mayor de Blasio was on point when he said, ‘I am not just Mayor of New York City; I am Mayor of the largest Guyanese community outside of Guyana, and I am proud of that because this community has done so much.’ The signage ‘Little Guyana Avenue’ has instilled much pride in the Guyanese community in New York, and beyond. We present pictorial highlights of the historic co-naming event.

Little Guyana Avenue Co-Naming: Let’s remember the pioneers! 

            Speech by By: Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Chairpersons, elected officials, Councilwoman for District 28, Adrienne Adams, and friends. Let’s hear it for our Councilwoman please. Councilwoman Adams, we admire you and appreciate you; thanks for making this possible. Thanks also to District Leader Richard David, the New York City Council and our Mayor, the Hon. Bill de Blasio, and a certain person who is his Senior Liaison Officer, Rohan Narine, one of our own, and he can’t do anything without his lovely Aminta!

Here is a quick Guyanese history: First there were the Amerindians. Berlinda is here to represent the native Indians. Then came the slaves from Africa, the East Indians indentured servants from India, and the Chinese and Portuguese. When you add all of them, you get a mosaic, a cook-up rice society. Bad politics at home drove us to other countries. We arrived in a trickle in America in the sixties. It quickly became a flood in the next two decades. We brought our culture to New York; religion, foods, fashion, thrift, and that pointer broom to sweep our front yard clean!

Many of us went to various parts of New York and some came to an enclave called Richmond Hill, in South-East Queens. It is here where the majority of Guyanese would reside and where the term ‘Little Guyana’ would be coined. Here is some more history: York College has been educating us for many years while the United Pentecostal Church added to the culture. The first Guyanese attorney was Indar Singh and a few steps away is Six Stars Auto, Uncle Ron Singh, his son Greg, daughter Lisa, and Rodney, people with a good heart.

At the confluence of three streets, you smell the food before you behold the man. It is Sybils. Take a bow Cookie. On the left is the Arya Spiritual Center Ground, the home of our Parades, Motorcades, and Ramayana in the Park, and soon to be Pandit Ramlall Way on June 27, 2021. Thanks to Shanta Flowers for her generosity, to Shivram’s Bakery for their donation and to Elcock Funeral Home for their service. Thanks to Hansa Engineering, and across the street is the Cheddi Jagan Center at 129 Street where Vishnu Mahadeo and Harry Dukhram played a major role.

My good friends Chuck Mohan, Mel Carpen and Arjune Karshan and Pandit Ramlall worked hard for a democratic Guyana. Let me also recognize Tilokie Depoo, who ran the first local political campaign in 1992. We acknowledge Rueben Khusial, Uncle Joe Kanhai, Harry Bissoon, Mohabeer Records, Ramesh Kalicharran, Ray Sundar, Dr. Tara Singh, Dr. Vishnu Bisram, Dr. Terrence Blackman, James Richmond, Roy Dhanraj Singh, Herman Singh, Gora Singh, Naro Balli, Eshri Singh, Hazi Zakir, Clyfee Madho, Rosanna Beaumont, school principal, Neil Ganesh, Ravi Dev, Vassan Ramracha, Mohamed Hack, Mike Persaud, Albert Baldeo, Dr. Gary Girdhari, Amit Parasnath, Roshan Ali Ahmad, Farouk Juman, Shamela Karrim, Lake Persaud, Stanley Raj, Shanti Ammar, Romeo Hitlall, Naidoo Veerapen, Jas Persaud, Buddy Singh, Seeta Panday, Pat Longford, Dr. Dolly Hassan of pro-bono fame, Paul Sanders, Lakshmee Singh, Mahadeo Shivraj, and others. We want to thank our friends from Trinidad and Tobago, Surinam, India, Barbados, Jamaica, and the beautiful USA. Little Trinidad Avenue and Little Surinam Avenue are coming soon.

Three of Cheddi Jagan’s grandchildren are on Liberty Avenue, Cheddi Jr, and Vrinda are attorneys, and Avasa is a dentist. The Eglesia Pentecostal is around a long time, as is the Shri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir and the Masjid-al-Abidin. Attorney Kawal Totaram and Balwant Persaud have been permanent fixtures. Dr. George Jhagroo is the first Guyanese doctor on the Avenue, followed closely by Dr. Philip Baldeo and Sangha Optical.

The first West Indian store on Liberty is J and B and they are still around. The store was established 44 years ago and Uncle Eddie and Auntie Joyce look just as young. Their son, Michael Jarbandhan, is a stalwart. Derek and Joan Baijnauth opened one of the first sari stores, and across the street is Tony Yassin from Spice World and Basil Persaud from Persaud Hardware. We salute Indira Mohamed from SJI Bridals, and N and R bakery. As we get closer to Liberty, we recognize Bena’s Home Care and Ravo from Kaieteur Express, and the Cane Juice Man, Mr. Somere Singh at 120th Street.

We must not forget the ‘A’ train and the library across the street. We thank Michael Kearns for lending us this space. They have been around since 1900. Across the street is Tropical Isle and Dave West Indian has been serving this community for the longest, as is Little Guyana Bake Shop. Thanks to Dr. Devicka Persaud, Dr. Suresh Sugrim, and the indomitable Dr. Kamini Doobay.

Liberty Avenue is a gastronomic delight, with Sybils, Bamboo Gardens, Singh’s Roti Shop, Shivram’s Bakery, Bakewell, Bigwell, Three Sisters, GT Kingston, three Tropical Jades, Hack’s Halall, Kaieteur Express, Trini Delite, and several others.

Finally, we salute the business community, the religious institutions, the students, and their parents, the schools, the NYPD with members from our own community. Chief McPherson, Inspector Deodat Urpersaud, Captain Ralph Clement, Officer Khyume Khan, Officer Mark Holder, Officer Anand Narayan, the NYPD Desi Society, and GALEA, and we single out Detective Randolph Holder who paid the ultimate price to keep us safe. His father is with us today.

And now let’s sing ‘Born in the land of the Mighty Roraima.’   

The Song Of Guyana’s Children (Born In The Land Of The Mighty Roraima) Lyrics

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  • Tamara  On 07/10/2021 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for relating the lovely story of the dear land of Guyana and for singing about our plateau of the Mighty Roraima and our illustrious citizens old and new God bless us everyone.

  • dhanpaul narine  On 07/12/2021 at 6:04 am

    Thanks to Cyril’s vision we are able to relive the old days. They used to make sure that we learned every line of that song, and we had to go in front of the class and sing it. The teacher had the ruler in her hand waiting for a mistake!

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