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Guide to the West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records 2010.019

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Margaret Fraser and Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding Aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Brooklyn Historical Society (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
Title: The West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records
Dates [inclusive]: 1993-1996
Dates [bulk]: 1994-1995
Abstract: This collection includes research materials, oral histories, and photographs collected through the West Indian Carnival Documentation Project, undertaken by Brooklyn Historical Society in the mid-1990s. The project attempted to supplement existing scholarship with oral histories done with members of the West Indian community and Carnival participants.
Quantity: 28 Gigabytes in 288 files, total running time: 30 hours, 15 minutes, 57 seconds; 5.0 linear feet in 9 boxes
Language: Materials in English.
Call Phrase: 2010.019
Sponsor: The oral histories were processed and described with funding from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and as part of the projects, 'Voices of Generations: Investigating Brooklyn's Cultural Identity,' funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and 'Voices of Crown Heights,' funded by New York Community Trust.

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Historical Note

The West Indian Carnival tradition in New York City stems from private gatherings and parties held in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1920s, typically in February. In the 1940s, an outdoor street festival began taking place on 7th Avenue in Harlem, organized by Trinidadian Jessie Wattle. In 1967, the Carnival was moved to Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn following a disturbance that led to its street permit being revoked in Manhattan. At this same time, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) was founded. The Association was run by Trinidadian Carlos Lezama from 1967 until 2001, and was later headed by his daughter, Yolanda Lezama-Clark. With Thomas Bailey serving as President since 2012, the West Indian Carnival in Brooklyn is now one of the largest outdoor street festivals in North America.

Carnival activities begin on the Thursday before Labor Day and continue through Monday, concluding with the parade itself. Other events and activities include a steel band competition and a Kiddie Carnival. The parade itself takes months of preparation from each masquerade camp or "mas," which designs its own elaborate and colorful costumes around a central theme and competes for prizes with the other camps. Parade participants are accompanied by various musical groups and styles, as well as food vendors, brought together to celebrate pan-Caribbean culture.

The Brooklyn Historical Society launched The West Indian Carnival Documentation Project in 1994 in cooperation with the West Indian American Day Carnival Association and the Brooklyn Museum with a goal of supplementing existing photographs and histories of the event with personal narratives and life histories of Carnival participants. Those involved with the project attempted to get different viewpoints within the hierarchy of Carnival organization and participation. The oral histories, photographs and resources that make up this collection were compiled by a team including two community researchers, photographers from local Caribbean publications, graduate student assistants, scholarly advisors and a community advisory committee primarily made up of WIADCA members. Staff for this project included Dwandalyn Reece King (Chief Curator), Michael Roberts (Interviewer), Joyce Quamina (Research Assistant), Megan McShea (Project Assistant), Maureen Mahon (Project Fieldworker) and Kristen Elmquist (Project Fieldworker).

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Scope and Contents

The West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records include photographs, oral histories (audio and transcripts), publications and research, and ephemeral materials relating to the Carnival and the project itself. The materials were collected and created within the context of a documentation project undertaken by the Brooklyn Historical Society in 1994, which later culminated in an exhibition. Exhibition materials are not included in the collection.

Arrangement

The West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records were largely kept in their original order. Series were formed based on format. The oral history transcripts, tapes, and digitized audio are arranged alphabetically. Each folder of photographs represents one reel of film and the photos remain in the order in which they were taken and developed. The folders are organized chronologically. The research materials are located in three boxes, the third of which contains oversized materials. The first two boxes are arranged alphabetically.

The collection is organized into the following four series. Series 1: Oral histories consists of digitized oral history interview recordings of most of the interviews.  Series 2: Oral history transcripts includes transcripts and cassette tapes of most of the interviews. The interview with Wesley Millington does not have a transcript. The Debra Holland interview was not preserved. Interview abstracts are located in the "Summaries" folder in box 2.

Many of the topics and people discussed in the oral history interviews are also represented in Series 3: Photographs. When available, these are included in the folder title as well as the series scope and content note. The photos document the Parade itself, in addition to the organizers and participants, costumes, music, instruments, rehearsals and Carnival preparation in general. Though the majority of the series is made up of 4 x 6 color prints, there are also some corresponding negatives, contact sheets, and a few larger prints.

Series 4: Research materials is made from what was gathered and generated through the documentation project. The materials relate directly to the West Indian Carnival in Brooklyn, as well as to Carnivals in London and Trinidad. They also describe the pan-Caribbean community in and outside of Brooklyn. This series includes magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, articles, bibliographies and resource lists, and ephemeral materials.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Articles
  • Oral histories (document genres)
  • Photographs
  • Records (documents)

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Caribbean Americans
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x History -y 20th century
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • West Indian Americans

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • London (England)
  • Trinidad

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers with varied restrictions according to narrator agreement. Oral histories can be accessed onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Exhibition research materials are open to researchers upon request and are accessible onsite at the Othmer Library.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. Please see the Oral History Note for guidelines on using Brooklyn Historical Society's oral history collections. For assistance, please consult library staff at library@brooklynhistory.org.

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for oral histories: [Narrator Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer First name Last name], [Month day, YYYY], West Indian Carnival Documentation Project oral histories, [Object ID]; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Preferred citation for research materials, papers, and photographs: Identification of item, date (if known); West Indian Carnival Documentation Project papers, 2010.019, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials

In addition to this collection, Brooklyn Historical Society has oral history collections and other records related to the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

- The Crown Heights History Project collection includes thirty-three interviews conducted from 1993 to 1994. (1994.006)

- The Listen to this: Crown Heights Oral History collection includes forty-three interviews conducted in 2010 (2010.020)

- Eastern Parkway Coalition records, 1952-2007 (2007.016)

- 959 Park Place Tenants' Association records (1978.009)

For more information on these collections please visit our onlinefinding aid portal.

Related collections located elsewhere include:

- The Daphne Weeks Collection, 1993-1994 at the New York Public Library (Sc MG 741)

- Institutional files related to the West Indian American Day Carnival Association at the Brooklyn Museum of Art

Oral History note

Oral history interviews are intimate conversations between two people, both of whom have generously agreed to share these recordings with the Brooklyn Historical Society archives and with researchers. Please listen in the spirit with which these were shared. Researchers will understand that:

1. The Brooklyn Historical Society abides by the General Principles & Best Practices for Oral History as agreed upon by the Oral History Association (2009) and expects that use of this material will be done with respect for these professional ethics.

2. Every oral history relies on the memories, views and opinions of the narrator. Because of the personal nature of oral history, listeners may find some viewpoints or language of the recorded participants to be objectionable. In keeping with its mission of preservation and unfettered access whenever possible, BHS presents these views as recorded.

3. Transcripts created prior to 2008 serve as a guide to the interview and are not considered verbatim. The audio recording should be considered the primary source for each interview. It may contain natural false starts, verbal stumbles, misspeaks, repetitions that are common in conversation, and other passages and phrases omitted from the transcript. This decision was made because BHS gives primacy to the audible voice and also because some researchers do find useful information in these verbal patterns.

4. Unless these verbal patterns are germane to your scholarly work, when quoting from this material researchers are encouraged to correct the grammar and make other modifications maintaining the flavor of the narrator's speech while editing the material for the standards of print.

Separated Materials

Personal documents relating to the documentation project team and hiring process were separated from the collection and added to the administrative files at Brooklyn Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The oral histories, photographs, and resources that make up this collection were compiled by a team including two community researchers, photographers from local Caribbean publications, graduate student assistants, scholarly advisors and a community advisory committee primarily made up of WIADCA members. Staff for this project included Dwandalyn Reece King (Chief Curator), Michael Roberts (Interviewer), Joyce Quamina (Research Assistant), Megan McShea (Project Assistant), Maureen Mahon (Project Fieldworker) and Kristen Elmquist (Project Fieldworker). Most recordings and transcripts were digitized in 2011.

Processing Information

The West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records were processed by Margaret Fraser in 2010. West Indian Carnival Documentation Project oral histories were processed by Nilaja Troy and Brett Dion in 2016. The series of oral histories were processed to the item level. Due to privacy concerns, the specific dates of birth of all narrators or other named individuals were redacted from the digitized transcripts and audio recordings.

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Container List

Series 1: Oral Histories. 28 Gigabytes in 288 files

Adams, Val, 1994 September 24

Biographical / Historical

Val Adams was born in St. Patrick's, Grenada in 1956. Raised in a musical family, he began performing at an early age and achieved local success in his teens. He immigrated to Brooklyn in 1974 at age eighteen. He continued in music, forming his own group, which became a fixture at Grenadian functions in New York City. Adams was instrumental in increasing Grenadian participation in Eastern Parkway festivities.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Val Adams discusses his musical beginnings and his participation in Carnival in Grenada with particular reference to local mas genres, Jab Jab and Shortknee. He discusses his early impressions of Brooklyn and talks at some length about his continued musical career in New York. He discusses his involvement with the Carnival on Eastern Parkway and his attempts to increase Grenadian participation despite some resistance. Adams describes his impressions of the Brooklyn Carnival as a unique expression of pan-Caribbean unity and African American culture. Adams compares regional differences in Carnival traditions, how the Brooklyn Carnival has changed over time, the economic benefits and some of the challenges facing the celebration. Interview conducted by Michael Roberts.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Adams, Val

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Economic conditions
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Grenadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Grenadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Trinidadian Americans -- United States

Subject Places

  • Boston (Mass.)
  • Brazil
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Jamaica
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Toronto (Ont.)
  • Trinidad
  • Washington (D.C.)

Adolphus, Jeffrey, 1994 August 26

Biographical / Historical

Jeffrey Adolphus (born circa 1952 - ) was born in Belize. He immigrated to Brooklyn after high school in 1971 and formed a band, playing keyboards as a full-time musician. He completed a five-year music program, worked for United Airlines, Wells Fargo, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), and finally, the Board of Education. Adolphus was instrumental in getting New York's Belizeans officially involved in the West Indian Carnival parade in 1991 through his organization, the Belizean Carnival and Recreational Association (BECRA).

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Jeffrey Adolphus discusses his initial impressions of Brooklyn and his early efforts to gain Belizean entry into the West Indian Carnival parade. He contrasts Belizean, New Yorker, and Trinidadian attitudes toward the parade and describes the role of New York and Miami Belizeans in reinvigorating the Carnival tradition in Belize. Adolphus describes his personal connection to the parade and the depth of his commitment with detailed discussions of selecting themes and designing costumes. He describes Belizean culture's mélange of ethnic traditions with an only recently popularized musical tradition and emphasizes the parade's importance in promoting and disseminating Belizean culture and identity. Adolphus discusses fundraising, the challenges involved in organizing a parade contingent, and changes he'd like to see; including the importance of reaching out to the general African American community. He feels that the group doesn't necessarily see themselves reflected in the parade, which is a partial cause of resentment and violence. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Adolphus, Jeffrey

Subject Organizations

  • Belizean Carnival and Recreational Association (BECRA)
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x History -y 20th century
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Central Americans -- Beli-e
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Musicians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Belize
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)

Alexander, Jean, 1994 June 27

Biographical / Historical

Jean Alexander was born and raised in St. Joseph, Trinidad. She is of East Indian descent. Married at fifteen, she traveled with her husband and children twice to the United States in 1963 and 1968 before permanently immigrating in 1971. The family moved to Brooklyn in 1975. Alexander is a long-standing member of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) and was the public relations officer for the Caribbean-American Center.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Jean Alexander discusses the role that class played in how one participated in Carnival in Trinidad. Introduced to the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) in 1974, she soon became involved in the organization as its public relations director, a position she still held in 1994 at the time of the interview. She reflects on the experience of Carnival and considers the economic resources the Carnival annually brings to New York City. She notes that the contributions of the Caribbean community have not been fully acknowledged by the government or the media. Alexander suggests that WIADCA should be a year round institution that can serve the community; providing resources for job training and employment and addressing the need of the organization to involve more people from other Caribbean islands. She also discusses the cultural conflicts that have occurred among organizers and finishes with a description of the activities and services provided by the non-profit Caribbean-American Center, of which WIADCA was an affiliate. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Alexander, Jean
  • Lezama, Carlos

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Trinidadians -- Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Economic conditions
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- United States

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Washington (D.C.)
  • Toronto (Ont.)
  • Trinidad

Alexander, Kendell, 1994 July 29

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Alexander, Kendell

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Brewster, Randy, 1994 August 18

Biographical / Historical

Randy Brewster was born in Trinidad and came to New York in 1961. His first involvement in Carnival in Trinidad was playing "Indian." He was a founder of the Culture of Black Creation, a costume design and production shop serving New York, Westchester and Trinidad. His partner/designer is Francis "Jackie" Clavery. At the time of the interview in 1994, he worked as a dental technician.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Randy Brewster recalls his early involvement with Carnival in Trinidad. He discusses developing carnival themes and the intrigue involved in keeping them secret with some elaboration on the judging criteria in Trinidad versus Brooklyn. He then describes the process of sketching and design in conjunction with his production partner, Jackie Clavery, and they discuss the hierarchy of carnival competition. Brewster discusses what Carnival means to him and regrets the lack of costume preservation. He describes the scope and logistics of the production process and discusses both positive and negative aspects of the Brooklyn parade; including the difference between a parade and a carnival or street festival (gumbi). He notes the emphasis on novelty each year and the pleasure he gets from watching youth involvement in the Kiddies Carnival, including that of his own children. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Brewster, Randy

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Art -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Carnival
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Costume designers -- Trinidad
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Canada
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Trinidad

Brewster, Winston, 1995 March 28

Biographical / Historical

Winston Brewster was born in San Fernando, Trinidad. In 1969, at the age of thirty, he immigrated to the United States. Brewster first lived in Queens, where his family was located. He then moved to Brooklyn, where he still resided at the time of this interview, in 1995. While he participated in mas in Trinidad, he did not participate in Brooklyn, New York. Instead, Brewster was involved as a vendor of Trinidadian food. When not preparing to sell food at his two stalls, he worked as a welder.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Winston Brewster discusses his involvement as a food vendor at Brooklyn's West Indian Carnival. He reflects on the early days of the Carnival in the late 1960s; noting the changes in the route, number of spectators, and how the structure of food vending has evolved. He also notes the Brooklyn Carnival's parallels to the Trinidadian Carnival. Brewster discusses the impact of the Carnival on the Caribbean community and the wider New York community; noting the presence of a growing multicultural participation. He considers the Carnival's enormity and suggests that the cultural presence can and has influenced the city's political decisions. The specific example provided concerned a controversy in 1994 when the onset of the Jewish holy day Rosh Hashanah coincided with Carnival. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Brewster, Winston

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Economic conditions
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Street vendors -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Trinidadian Americans -- United States

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Trinidad

Byron, Cheryl, 1994 September 29

Biographical / Historical

Cheryl Byron was born on the island of Trinidad. In 1974, she immigrated to New York. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees, in English, from City College, City University of New York. At the time of the interview in 1994, Byron was teaching at Medgar Evers College, Fort Greene Senior Citizens Center, and John Houseman Berean Church; all located in Brooklyn, where she had recently moved. Enrolled in a doctoral program at New York University, she was completing a dissertation with the working title, "Brooklyn Carnival: Theater and Art." A prolific painter, Cheryl Byron was the first poet to perform in the calypso tent at the West Indian American Day Carnival. An old mas enthusiast and founder of the performing arts company Something Positive, Inc., her artistic contributions continuously enriched Brooklyn's Carnival. Cheryl Byron died of cancer in 2003.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Cheryl Byron recalls her early participation playing mas in Carnival in Trinidad and, since the 1970s, as a dancer and poet, in the Brooklyn parade. She describes developing ideas and concepts for her old mas band and what Carnival represents to her personally. Much of the interview focuses on a discussion of the intricacy and ritualism involved in preparations for the parade and the history of the satirical genre of old mas/J'ouvert. She describes some of the positive and negative aspect of the parade; including the greater ethnic inclusion and the growing participation of children, the poor organization, random violence, and the decreased presence of live music. She suggests means of improvement. Noting common misconceptions, surrounding Carnival, Byron suggests community education as a possible solution. She ends by noting the possibilities of garnering greater government support and calls for a tighter network among the diasporic Caribbean Carnivals. Interview conducted by Michael Roberts.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Byron, Cheryl
  • Lezama, Carlos

Subject Organizations

  • New York (N.Y.). Police Department
  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Trinidadians -- Ethnic identity
  • Trinidadians -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • London (England)
  • Toronto (Ont.)

Cadogan, Glenda, 1995 March 10

Biographical / Historical

Glenda Cadogan was born in Trinidad, became a journalist and came to New York in 1988. She continued as a journalist in New York with the City Sun. She has been very active in Carnival; both Brooklyn and Trinidad. She cofounded a production company, Sapodilla Sisters, that staged plays in Brooklyn in 2014 and 2015. As of 2016, she worked as a media consultant and publicist and held the vice president title at Mauby Media Services.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Glenda Cadogan recalls her first impressions of Brooklyn. She describes herself as a "calypso junkie" and recalls covering the Carnival in Trinidad as a journalist. Cadogan notes some differences between the Brooklyn and Trinidad Carnivals; including organization and differences in levels of participation. She describes her personal connection to Carnival and notes the positive messages sent by the parade and its potential as political catalyst. Cadogan suggests methods of raising awareness about the parade outside the community, distinguishes between the concepts of "parade" and "Carnival," and calls for more mainstream marketing and advertising outside the community. She describes the recent tensions between the Hasidim and Caribbean communities and her modest hopes for bridge-building. She notes recent changes in Brooklyn's Carnival and the connection between local economics and Carnival participation. She is hopeful about the Kiddies Carnival. Cadogan lists her favorite aspects of Carnival and her perceived negative aspects. Cadogan closes by both recognizing the achievements of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) and calling for innovation within its ranks by way of an infusion of younger blood. Interview conducted by Michael Roberts.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Cadogan, Glenda

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Calypso (Music) -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Trinidad

Clavery, Francis "Jackie", 1994 August 18

Biographical / Historical

Francis "Jackie" Clavery was born in Trinidad in 1928 and came to New York in 1966 and to Brooklyn in 1977. He designed and created costumes in conjunction with Randy Brewster, as part of The Culture of Black Creation. He was one of only four designers in Trinidad who worked with copper in Carnival designs.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Clavery recalls getting involved with designing costumes for the Brooklyn parade in conjunction with Randy Brewster. He describes the research process involved in realizing a band's theme. He discusses the deficiencies in New York's judging process and the higher level of competition standard in Trinidad. Clavery describes and demonstrates the process of copper engraving, a rarified technique that he incorporates into his costumes. He explains the need to stay in touch with Trinidad's Carnival in order to keep an edge and stay innovative. Clavery then discusses his personal connection to Carnival. He traces the history of Carnival and describes Trinidad as a unique Caribbean multi-racial melting pot exhibiting more racial harmony than the United States. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Clavery, Francis "Jackie"

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Costume designers
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Race relations -- United States
  • Racism

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Trinidad

Cowie, Jamilla and Sylvia, 1994 August 4

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • Cowie, Jamilla
  • Cowie, Sylvia

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

DaSilva, Dwight, 1994 July 29

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to this recording is restricted by the donor. Please contact library@brooklynhistory.org for further questions.

Subject Names

  • DaSilva, Dwight

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Davis, Kelvin "Fuzzy", 1994 September 7

Biographical / Historical

Kelvin "Fuzzy" Davis was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad in 1945. He immigrated to Connecticut in 1968, then Brooklyn in 1980 where he is employed by the City of New York as a director in charge of emergency repairs. Davis is an influential costume designer and builder for Brooklyn's Carnival, and involved in the founding of the large costume bands, Borokeet and Midas International. At the 2008 Carnival, he participated with the band Pieces of a Dream. In 2010, he was recorded as a panelist and interviewed as an artist for the Black Brooklyn Renaissance Digital Archive.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Davis describes the theme of his band (Borokeet) and assesses the parade, or Carnival, in Brooklyn. He describes the serious negative effects of policing and the conflict with the Hasidim on the most recent parade of 1994. Davis makes an appeal for the Caribbean community to coalesce and seize political power, especially in light of the economic benefits to the borough. He recounts the history of his involvement with Carnival and his personal connection and training with high profile designers and organizers. He describes collaborative efforts of modern designers and the process of a band realizing the production of its theme. He describes his commitment and love for Carnival and some of the logistics and costs involved. Davis describes changes in Carnival and the commercialization of Trinidad's Carnival. He appeals for greater future collaboration between bands and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association. Davis compares Brooklyn's Carnival with others and regrets its lack of recognition. He ends with a call for national acceptance of the Brooklyn Carnival. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Davis, Kelvin "Fuzzy"

Subject Organizations

  • New York (N.Y.). Police Department
  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x History -y 20th century
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Costume designers -- Trinidad
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Police -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Trinidad

Davis, Paula, 1994 September 19

Biographical / Historical

Paula Davis was born in Trinidad and came to New York to join family members in 1969. She headed her first Carnival band, the "U.S.S. Maple" in 1980. Soon after, she founded Aquarium Productions, working closely with her boyfriend Clyde Bascombe, the band's designer. The bandleader of Aquarium Mas Band, she was initially one of the few women bandleaders in the community. As of 2016, Aquarium has won at many carnivals for the past thirty-five years; from Children to Adult Band categories. They are recipients of over 140 trophies and certificates from carnivals in New York (Brooklyn and Long Island), New Jersey (Orange and Newark), Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Orlando. Davis attributes the possibility of these accomplishments to being inspired, supported, and culturally invested by Bascombe, sister Louella Davis, brother George Davis and Aquarium's friends and supporters.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Paula Davis talks about the internal competition that exists amongst masquerade bands and some of the challenges of being a woman in a male dominated arena. Davis begins with a brief description of her origin, immigration and formative Carnival band experience. She closes with a critique of the process and bias found in the judges who award prizes for the band competitions. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Davis, Paula

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • West Indian Americans

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)

Dublin, Angela, 1994 December 7

Biographical / Historical

Angela Dublin was born in Curacao. As a child her family immigrated to Trinidad & Tobago. In Trinidad, she participated in the Carnival for two years as a child. In 1967, Dublin immigrated to the United States, settling in Brooklyn, New York. She was a participant of the Brooklyn West Indian American Day Carnival. At the time of the interview in 1994, she had not attended Carnival for a number of years, because of a fear of violence.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Angela Dublin describes her immigration to the United States. She reflects on the West Indian community's interaction in the seventies. Dublin describes her childhood experiences of Carnival in Trinidad, comparing the historical premise of the event to her personal experience. She also provides detailed histories of the Carnival traditions of Dimanche Gras, calypso and pan music. Dublin discusses the event of the Carnival in 1994, noting the participation of international bands and media. She relates her frustration that although the Carnival produces revenue for the city, it continues to receive little local media coverage. There is also a discussion of a conflict with the Hasidic Jewish community and their desire to reschedule the Carnival because of the Jewish New Year. Dublin notes the influence technology has had on Carnival. She sees Carnival as an art that brings together different communities to share the beauty of the Caribbean culture. Interview conducted by Michael Roberts.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Dublin, Angela

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Costume designers -- Trinidad
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Trinidadians -- Ethnic identity

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Trinidad

Evelyn, Terry, 1994 October 19

Biographical / Historical

Terry Evelyn, born in 1936, was the designer for the Brooklyn Carnival band, Hawks International. A native of Trinidad, he has been in the United States since 1964. Recognized as a prodigy in art and mathematics, his architectural/design career began by designing steel pans. As a child, he found that Carnival in Trinidad was his opportunity to practice and display his artistic skills. His career has been spent as an architect and carnival designer. Evelyn's first job in the States was with Standard Oil. As late as 2010, he remained a vocal proponent of Carnival as a meaningful cultural event for Brooklyn.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Terry Evelyn speaks very strongly about issues of culture, Carnival, race and ethnicity. He begins by remembering his own personal origin weaved in with his early participation in Trinidad's Carnival. Evelyn compares his experience with the judging process for that event with the process in Brooklyn's Carnival. He discusses mounting a presentation for Nelson Mandela's visit to the United Nations that couldn't be executed. He recalls his early participation and the stakeholders involved with Brooklyn's early Carnivals. In 1994, Evelyn was in high demand for his designs and consulting work in several North American Carnivals and he relates details about that. He bemoans that Carnival could be turned into a parade of nudity. Evelyn discusses his architectural design for a proposed performance space in Trinidad. His culturally diverse approach to that is contextualized with the diversity of Brooklyn Carnival. He digresses several times in the last half-hour; taking on several weighty issues, revealing some intolerance and theorizing on conspiracies relating to Jewish influence, war, liberty, and the oppression of African Americans and Caribbean Americans. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Evelyn, Terry

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Antisemitism
  • Caribbean Americans
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Costume designers
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Race relations -- United States
  • Racism

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Trinidad

Gilbert, Elimus, 1995 February 15

Biographical / Historical

Elimus "Inspector" Gilbert is a Grenadian and was in his mid-twenties at the time of this 1995 interview. Participating as a performer in Carnival since 1985, he had won the Calypso King competition in Grenada on two occasions and was the 1995 Road March King. He was one well-known talent among young Carnival performers and records and performs on the international scene in the decades since. In 2015, he celebrated a thirtieth anniversary in the entertainment business by hosting a multi-act concert, planning a television special and releasing a commemorative and retrospective compilation on compact disc.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Elimus Gilbert thinks that spectator interest in the Labor Day Carnival parade in Brooklyn is dwindling because of the potential for violence. He believes that the West Indian American Day Carnival Association has done a decent job but that there are areas which need improvement. Gilbert would like to see the spectators refrain from joining mas bands before they reach the reviewing stands. "Inspector," as he is known in the calypso world, thinks that it is a great thing for other non-West Indian peoples to get involved in the Carnival. He observes that the event has been underexposed in the mainstream media and he wants that changed. Interview conducted by Michael Roberts.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Gilbert, Elimus

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Musicians -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Canada
  • Grenada
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Lezama, Carlos, 1994 October 19

Biographical / Historical

Carlos Lezama was born on September 3, 1923 in Coro, Venezuela. He grew up in Trinidad but later returned to Venezuela, where he was an auto-worker for General Motors and Chrysler, as well as a mechanic in Caracas specializing in dental machinery. After that, he departed for a job as a merchant mariner. It was during his travels as a seaman that he first visited the United States and eventually resolved to move to New York City, which he did—alone—in 1954. He lived in Manhattan first before moving to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. At some point, his wife and children joined him; they were all congregants at Saint Gregory Catholic Church. He continued to work as a mechanic, taking vocational courses to supplement his training, and after a while was able to buy a home on St. John's Place. During this time, he became a prominent figure in the cultural life of Crown Heights' West Indian residents. Along with Rufus (Lionel) Gorin, he was a key organizer of the first Carnival on Labor Day that went down Eastern Parkway, now commonly called the West Indian Day Parade, in 1969. When Gorin died, Lezama was elected the first president of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA)—a position to which he was repeatedly reelected until he retired in 2002. He died in 2007.

Scope and Contents

Lezama, who in 1994 was in his twenty-eighth year as president of the West Indian-American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), recounts the history of the Carnival and his personal involvement with it. He explains the relocation of the Carnival from Harlem to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights and its transformation from a small affair, held mostly indoors in the middle of winter, to a late-summer street festival attracting millions of spectators and participants. He compares the Brooklyn Carnival with its analogues throughout the Caribbean and the United States, especially Trinidad. He describes WIADCA's relationship with city government and the police; both in the aftermath of the 1991 Crown Heights unrest and more recently amid an NYPD "crackdown" on "quality of life" offenses that has affected Carnival participation. He dwells on a dispute with the Hasidim of Crown Heights over the date of the 1994 Carnival, which Lubavitcher Jews claimed would conflict with the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and how minority-focused newspapers have commented on it. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Lezama, Carlos

Subject Organizations

  • Congregation Lubavitch (Crown Heights, New York, N.Y.)
  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Police -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- United States
  • West Indian Americans

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x History
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social conditions |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)

Millington, Wesley, 1994 September 13

Biographical / Historical

Wesley Millington was born in St. Vincent in 1954. He moved to Brooklyn in 1969 and rarely returns to St. Vincent. He is a founding member of and the designer for Mas Productions; one of the smaller organizations in 1994, with a membership of about fifteen. The group existed in the 1970s under the name of Caribbean Festive Associates but disbanded after a year or two. For the 2015 Carnival, Mas Productions and Millington, in his twenty-third year, were creating costumes at a mas camp in a Brooklyn bakery's basement.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Wesley Millington talks about his design experience and how he wishes to bring more creativity in his designs to Carnival in Brooklyn. He talks about the inner workings of the group, mentioning that one of their goals is to get more women involved in the organization. Millington also mentions the difficulty in getting other Vincentians interested and involved in participating in his organizations. Millington feels that the West Indian American Day Carnival Association could do more to promote and encourage people from other islands to participate in Carnival. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Millington, Wesley

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad

Pope, Kelvin, 1995 January 28

Biographical / Historical

Kelvin Pope, also known as "The Mighty Duke," was born in Port Fortin, Trinidad & Tobago to parents from St. Vincent. Pope was an internationally acclaimed calypso singer, winning four consecutive Calypso Monarch awards, a prestigious calypsonian competition. He participated in carnivals around the world, including the West Indian American Day Carnival in Brooklyn, New York. He began participating in the Brooklyn Carnival in 1969. Kelvin Pope died in 2009.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Kelvin Pope discusses his calypso career, from its early start in the Calypso Monarch competitions in Trinidad to his projects as of 1995, the year of this interview. He reminisces about his participation in Carnival, as a mas (masquerade) player and as a musician. He provides a commentary on the evolution of calypso in the years preceding this interview and the emergence of technological advancements in mas costumes and music. Pope discusses the early years of the West Indian American Day Carnival, in Brooklyn and compares the contemporary Carnival to Carnival in Trinidad, Notting Hill and Toronto. He notes possible ways in which the Brooklyn Carnival could be made more accessible. Pope also suggests the need for education in handling the continuing conflict that the West Indian American Day Carnival Association has had with its Hasidic Jewish neighbors. Pope also suggests ways in which the association could partner with city government to ease the financial and structural burdens of the Carnival. Interview conducted by Michael Roberts.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Pope, Kelvin

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Trinidadians -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music

Subject Places

  • Brazil
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Grenada
  • London (England)
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad

Quamina, Joyce, 1994 May 12

Biographical / Historical

Joyce Quamina was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. In 1969, she immigrated to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, New York. A participant of Carnival in her native Trinidad, Quamina was a spectator of the original West Indian American parades in Harlem, New York and became an active participant when the parade began in Brooklyn, New York. In 1994, at the time of the interview, she was the business manager of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA). Quamina was the founder and organizer of the Carnival's Kiddies Carnival; an event in which children between the ages of infancy and sixteen participate in their own mas or masquerade parade. She was also a contributor to the Westchester County Caribbean Carnival, in White Plains, New York. After retiring from WIADCA, Quamina continued as a business consultant for the association.

Scope and Contents

This is the first of two interviews with Joyce Quamina. The second interview was conducted on June 23, 1994. In this interview, Quamina discusses her childhood and adult experiences of Carnival in Trinidad. She relates memories of the West Indian Carnival in Harlem and provides a history of the Brooklyn West Indian American Day Carnival and its Kiddies Carnival, which she founded. She relates why the West Indian American Day Carnival is important to her. She also discusses what she views as the important factors of the Carnival's success. Quamina discusses the cultural diversity of the Carnival. Based on the popularity of the Carnival and the revenue it creates for the Crown Heights community and the City of New York, she sees a need for stronger sponsorship and media recognition beyond Brooklyn. The interview ends in a discussion of her role as business manager at the West Indian American Day Carnival Association. Interview conducted by Bill Pincheon.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Quamina, Joyce

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race identity
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • London (England)
  • Miami (Fla.)
  • Trinidad

Quamina, Joyce, 1994 June 23

Biographical / Historical

Joyce Quamina was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. In 1969, she immigrated to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, New York. A participant of Carnival in her native Trinidad, Quamina was a spectator of the original West Indian American parades in Harlem, New York and became an active participant when the parade began in Brooklyn, New York. In 1994, at the time of the interview, she was the business manager of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA). Quamina was the founder and organizer of the Carnival's Kiddies Carnival; an event in which children between the ages of infancy and sixteen participate in their own mas or masquerade parade. She was also a contributor to the Westchester County Caribbean Carnival, in White Plains, New York. After retiring from WIADCA, Quamina continued as a business consultant for the association.

Scope and Contents

This is the second of two interviews with Joyce Quamina. The first interview was conducted on May 12, 1994. Here Quamina provides a more in depth discussion of her role as the West Indian American Day Carnival Association business manager. She discusses the process of registering vendors, acquiring information for the press and media outlets, and booking the performers for concerts conducted behind the Brooklyn Museum. Quamina relates her experiences initiating the Kiddies Carnival and the Junior Steel Band Panorama, noting the importance of each in ensuring the continuation of the Carnival and as a source for providing summer activities for community children. She provides an assessment of the future struggles of the Carnival, noting that obtaining consistent sponsorship will continue to be central to the Carnival's survival. Quamina discusses the history of the pan steel band in Trinidad and the United States, specifically addressing the role of girls and women. She also relates her opinions of the continuing cultural conflict between the Hasidic Jewish and West Indian communities of Crown Heights. Interview conducted by Bill Pincheon.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Quamina, Joyce

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)

Reid, Michelle Quamina, 1994 July 19

Biographical / Historical

Michelle Quamina Reid was born in Trinidad. In 1970, she immigrated to Brooklyn, New York with her mother, Joyce Quamina. Reid had participated in the Carnival in Trinidad and, at the time of this interview in 1994, was a continual participant of the West Indian American Day Carnival parade, in Brooklyn. Her involvement included active membership in the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, where her mother Joyce was the business manager.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Michelle Quamina Reid reminiscences about her participation in Carnival as a child in Trinidad and her experience of the West Indian American Carnival, in Harlem, New York. She discusses the origins of the West Indian American Day Carnival in Brooklyn; how her mother, Joyce Quamina, became involved in the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA); and her own playing of mas. Reid was a judge for the Saturday event, the West Indian American Day Kiddies Carnival. She assisted her mother, Joyce Quamina, in registering vendors for Labor Day and in Be Aware of School, a program founded by Quamina to bring awareness to the importance of school and staying away from drugs. She provides an in-depth description of how the costumed bands of Carnival were judged. Reid contributes opinions on the importance of Carnival to the Caribbean heritage, the conflict that arose in 1994 with the religious Jewish community of Crown Heights, and how the different viewpoints of the next generation of WIADCA volunteers may affect the future of the Carnival. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Reid, Michelle Quamina

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)

Remy, Kwame, 1995 January 31

Biographical / Historical

Kwame Remy was born in Brooklyn, New York. Raised in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, he participated in the West Indian American Day Carnival festivities from the age of three; beginning with the Kiddie Carnival. In 1994, at the time of the interview, he was an eighteen year old senior at Sheepshead Bay High School. Remy was deeply involved in the mas competitions, winning prizes for elaborate costumes designed by Follette Eustace. He also worked for Joyce Quamina, the business manager for the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) in their administrative offices. Remy was involved in theater, music and dance. He went on to a career in music, as a vocalist in bands, and on cruise ships.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Kwame Remy discusses his involvement in mas (masquerade) performance at Brooklyn's West Indian American Day Carnival. He explains the process of choosing a costume and theme for the mas and, in particular, his experiences with Follette Eustace, acclaimed designer. Remy expresses some of the frustrations of working in the office of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association and in the general organizing of the Carnival. He also notes the conflicts between the cultural communities of Crown Heights. Reflecting on the changes he has seen in his fifteen years of participation, he proposes changes he would like to see; including more local and citywide recognition. Of note are his opinions on the emergence of deejay music on the floats, the need for bands to respect the time restraints of the Carnival permits and the rising interracial participation at the event. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Remy, Kwame

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Economic conditions
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Race identity
  • Trinidadian Americans -- United States

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Trinidad

Rennie, Yvette, 1994 September 28

Biographical / Historical

Yvette Rennie was born in Manto, Morleytown, Trinidad and Tobago. In 1969, she immigrated to the United States to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 1970, she traveled to New York, where she settled in Brooklyn and attended New York Community College. Rennie soon became involved in the West Indian Day Carnival festivities, where she played mas with Jab Jab performers. As of 1994, when the interview took place, she was an active participant in Carnival.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Yvette Rennie discusses her immigration to the United States, the struggles of gaining a footing as an immigrant, and her early participation in the West Indian American Day Carnival. She defines the purpose of the Carnival and suggests that a wider knowledge of its history would relieve the community tensions the Carnival creates; this includes the lack of respect and recognition she feels the Carnival receives. She also explains Jab Jab, a masquerade form, and J'ouvert, the predawn precursor to the Carnival parade. Rennie notes the contributions of the Carnival participants to the character and economy of the city. She reflects on the police presence at the 1994 Carnival and the possibility of the New York City government subsidizing the event and becoming more involved in the Carnival's organization. The interview concludes with a discussion of what would improve the Carnival. Interview conducted by Michael Roberts.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Rennie, Yvette

Subject Organizations

  • New York (N.Y.). Police Department
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Trinidadians -- Ethnic identity
  • Trinidadians -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • London (England)

Roberts, Michael, 1994 July 28

Biographical / Historical

Michael Roberts was born in St. George, on the island of Grenada. He immigrated to the United States in 1988, where he settled in the borough of Brooklyn. A journalist for most of his adult life, he was the managing editor of the Carib News at the time of this interview in 1994. He had held that position since 1990. He was a member of the West Indian-American Day Carnival Association.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Michael Roberts describes his involvement in the West Indian American Day Carnival in Brooklyn; as a member of the press and as a member of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA). He addresses the lack of media attention the Carnival receives and notes the unrecognized political and economic power the Carnival signifies for the Caribbean community. Roberts also contributes his opinions concerning the cultural conflicts between the Caribbean and Hasidic communities of the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, which hosts Carnival. Roberts describes Carnival in Grenada; providing a history of various facets and compares it to the Brooklyn manifestation. He reflects on the validation of Caribbean cultural identity that Carnival provides and notes its unifying qualities for the Caribbean and African American communities. He also discusses the racial disparity that hinders the Brooklyn Carnival from becoming as racially diverse as Caribbean Carnivals. The interview ends in a discussion of the need for a new generation of leadership for WIADCA and speculation on possible future changes to the parade. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Lezama, Carlos
  • Roberts, Michael

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Grenadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- United States

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Grenada

Seddio, Frank, 1994 September 29

Biographical / Historical

An Italian American, Frank Seddio was born in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie. A lifelong New York City civil servant, he has performed duties as a police officer, a community board chairman, State Assemblyman, district court judge, and as Chairman of the Kings County Democratic Party. Seddio was instrumental in the early phases of Brooklyn'sWest Indian American Day Carnival. From 1969-1970, as the community involvement liaison for the New York Police Department, he worked with Carlos Lezama in organizing the logistics of the parade. He later became a consultant for the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA). When interviewed in 1994, Seddio was the Chairman of Community Board 18 in Brooklyn and the legal counsel of WIADCA.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Frank Seddio reflects on his early experiences and contributions to Brooklyn's Carnival. A former police officer, who worked on the civil logistics, of the Carnival, he describes the initial challenges of running it, including political and police department resistance to recognizing the Carnival as a community festival. He reflects on the necessity to constantly reassess and reformulate the event in its early phases and how it has continued to change during his twenty five years of involvement. He also describes the policies and training the Carnival's context required of New York police officers. The interview ends in a reflection of how his involvement in the Carnival has provided him a unique insight into the Caribbean community. He notes that it is necessary that the larger New York City community recognizes the contribution of the Caribbean community and the Carnival to the fabric of New York. Interview conducted by Maureen Mahon.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Lezama, Carlos
  • Seddio, Frank

Subject Organizations

  • Brooklyn Museum
  • New York (N.Y.). Police Department
  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Police -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadians -- Ethnic identity
  • Trinidadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Trinidadians -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music

Subject Places

  • Trinidad
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Canarsie (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)

Simpson, Charles, 1994 September 14

Biographical / Historical

Charles Simpson was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He has been a regular visitor to Trinidad and Tobago over the years where he has been actively involved in Carnival. He is the pioneer of Jamaica Carnival, which formed in 1990. A Brooklynite since 1970, Simpson was previously a soldier of the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF).

Scope and Contents

Charles Simpson says in his interview that the West Indian American Day Carnival Association is doing a great job and that this is evidenced by the tremendous numbers who flock to Eastern Parkway every year at Labor Day to witness and participate in Brooklyn's Carnival. He sees problems of organization, but acknowledges that because of the size of the event this is inevitable. Simpson recalls his involvement in this Carnival over the years at various levels and it has been because of this collective experience that he became a key player in building the Jamaica Carnival, which takes place in April. He feels that city government can help more and he also thinks that the stature of the Carnival deserves better press, TV coverage, and input from the business sector by way of sponsorship. He argues that big business gets involved with the Macy's Parade and others of that kind, which in his view, cannot compare with the Labor Day Carnival Parade at any level. Interview conducted by Michael Roberts.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Simpson, Charles

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Jamaica
  • Trinidad

Smith, Frank, 1994 July 21

Biographical / Historical

Frank Smith was born in Trinidad & Tobago. He immigrated to the United States in his thirties to care for his father, who was residing in Brooklyn. A calypso promoter, Smith was a participant of the West Indian American Day Carnival as an organizer and promoter of tents and the locations in which the calypsonians performed. At the time of this interview in 1994, Smith had recently closed his nightclub the Rainbow Terrace (1978-1993), which showcased calypso and American performers.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Frank Smith recalls immigrating to the United States, his first impressions of Brooklyn, and his work as a promoter of calypso music for the West Indian American Day Carnival. Smith discusses changes he has seen in the Carnival, his attempts to coordinate a mas (masquerade) band, and his recruitment of talent for his calypso nightclub and the Carnival. He compares the Toronto Carnival, Caribana, to the Brooklyn Carnival, noting the differences and suggesting ways Brooklyn could better its participant route. Smith also discusses his use of mask and costumes from the Labor Day event to participate in the Fulton Street Festival. This event occurred approximately two weeks after the West Indian American Day Carnival. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Smith, Frank

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Economic conditions
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Trinidadian Americans -- United States

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Emigration and immigration
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Toronto (Ont.)
  • Trinidad

Stanislaus, Lamuel, 1994 August 4

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Lamuel Stanislaus was born in Grenada. He immigrated to the United States in 1945 to attend Howard University, where he subsequently received a medical degree in dentistry. After receiving his degree, he moved to Brooklyn where he maintained a dental practice for forty-three years. A founding member of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, Dr. Stanislaus was also the United Nations Ambassador to Grenada from 1985-1990. At the time of this interview in 1994, he had recently retired his practice.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Dr. Lamuel Stanislaus describes his personal life and relates the history of the Lenten Carnival in its European and African roots. He describes his initial impression of the West Indian American Day festivities in Harlem, New York in the 1940s and the events leading to the inception of the West Indian American Day Carnival and its parent association in Brooklyn. Dr. Stanislaus discusses the planning process of the Carnival. In 1994, the Carnival coincided with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. This created a conflict between Carnival organizers and members of the Hasidic Jewish community of Crown Heights in Brooklyn. Dr. Stanislaus provides his opinion on this situation and that of the Crown Heights riot of 1991. He speculates on the potential political influence the Carnival raises and discusses how the event can be used to support charities in the community and around the world. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Stanislaus, Lamuel, Dr.

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Grenadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- United States

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Grenada
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Thomas, Tricia, 1994 August 3

Biographical / Historical

Tricia Thomas was born in New York City. From age two until the age of six, she lived in Trinidad. Her family then returned to New York to live in Brooklyn. At the time of the interview she was sixteen years old and living in Edison, New Jersey. Many of her family members participated in Brooklyn's Carnival as masqueraders with Hawks International Mas Camp. Thomas was a member of the steel pan youth band, Caribbean American Sports & Cultural Youth Movement (CASYM), which required her to make multiple, weekly visits into Brooklyn for rehearsals and to commit to prolonged stays during the summer season before Carnival.

Scope and Contents

In this interview Tricia Thomas discusses her participation in Brooklyn's Carnival and in playing mas, the themed costume participation, from the age of three. She reflects on her choice to play the steel pan rather than mas and describes her family's participation in Carnival. A participant or observer of Carnival in a number of cities, she provides her opinion on the differences in the Carnivals and notes the pros and cons of the each. Noting the lack of media recognition of the Carnival, Thomas sees a need for the New York population to acknowledge and respect the Caribbean community's desire to preserve the cultural meaning of Carnival. Interview conducted by Dwan Reece King.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Thomas, Tricia

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Children -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Toronto (Ont.)
  • Trinidad

Thompson, Jay, 1994 October 5

Biographical / Historical

Jay Thompson was born in on the island of St. Kitts. She moved to New York as a teenager, where she lived from the age of fourteen to seventeen. She then returned to St. Kitts. After finishing school and working for the government of St. Kitts, Thompson returned to New York City at the age of twenty-three. In 1994, when the interview occurred, Thompson resided in the Bronx with her two children.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Jay Thompson discusses her immigration to New York City, her family, and her experience as a food vendor at Brooklyn's West Indian American Day Carnival. She notes that her booth is a central meeting place for St. Kittitians. Thompson also relates that the booth did not operate during the 1994 Carnival because of cost and time constraints imposed on the Carnival that year; a product of a conflict with the Hasidic Jewish community's celebration of Rosh Hashanah. She also discusses the St. Kitts Carnival, which occurs between Christmas and New Year's. Interview conducted by Maureen Mahon.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Thompson, Jay

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Race relations -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Street vendors -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration

Toney, Joyce, 1994 September 19

Biographical / Historical

Joyce Toney was born in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. She immigrated to the United States to attend college and moved to Brooklyn in 1972. At the time of this interview in 1994, Joyce Toney was a professor in the Department of Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at the City University of New York, Hunter College. Professor Toney sat as chairperson of that department from 1998-2002 and the as director of the Women Studies program at the same college from 2002-2005.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Joyce Toney discusses her participation in the carnivals in Brooklyn, Toronto and St. Vincent, noting the differences between the events. She also considers how the structure of the carnivals in Toronto and St. Vincent could alleviate the difficulties of the West Indian American Day Carnival in Brooklyn, New York. Toney reminisces about starting a "band," a musical group of mas players (the costumed participants of Carnival), in the 1970s. She discusses the definition of carnival, describing the process of playing mas. Toney discusses the camaraderie between mas players, noting that togetherness in mas does not necessarily signify a unified Caribbean community. She discusses the politicization of Carnival and the possibilities of using the popularity of Carnival to further the needs of the Caribbean community. The interview ends in a discussion of Carnival as an expression of Caribbean identity. Interview conducted by Maureen Mahon.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Toney, Joyce

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Barbados
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Toronto (Ont.)
  • Trinidad

Weeks, Daphne, 1994 May 6

Biographical / Historical

Daphne Weeks was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. References made within the interview indicate she may have been in her late seventies or early eighties in 1994. From a middle class family, she was a prolific musician who became a big band musician during the post-World War II era. With her band, Daphne Weeks and Her Versatile Caribbean Band, Weeks performed in the Harlem West Indian American parade and masquerade balls. She also participated in the Brooklyn West Indian American Day Carnival for twenty-six years. Daphne Weeks died on October 8, 2004.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Daphne Weeks describes her musical career in Trinidad and her immigration to the United States in 1947. Settling in Brooklyn, she played jazz and calypso in the big band clubs of Harlem. During her early career, Weeks encountered Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday. She also reflects on many of the West Indian American musicians of the period: Don Wilson, Lankey Belasco, Ohaldo Williams and Willie Gayle. Weeks discusses her participation in the earlier West Indian parade in Harlem; relating her experiences with the founder Jessie Wattle and Wattle's successor Evans Butcher. She tells of the event that may have ended the parades in Harlem and remembers the meeting between Rufus Gorin and Carlos Lezama that initiated the Brooklyn Carnival. She also defines and discusses the Dame Lorraine dances that once concluded the Carnival parades. Weeks discusses her twenty-six year participation in the Brooklyn West Indian American Day Carnival, noting the changes in the parade. She reflects on the police's relationship to the Carnival community, providing her opinion of what causes conflict between the parade spectators and the police. The interview ends with Daphne Weeks returning to a discussion of her musical career. Interview conducted by Bill Pincheon.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Lezama, Carlos

Subject Organizations

  • New York (N.Y.). Police Department
  • West Indian-American Day Carnival Association
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Musicians -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Police -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Trinidadian Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Trinidadians -- Ethnic identity
  • Trinidadians -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
  • Trinidad

Windsor, Gailene, 1995 April 19

Biographical / Historical

Gailene Windsor was born in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. She moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1979. When she was interviewed in 1995, Windsor was very active in the Vincentian community abroad, acting as the general secretary of a Vincentian-based New York Carnival organization. She played mas (masquerade) in St. Vincent and in the West Indian American Day Carnival, Brooklyn. In 2016, Windsor was a member of the non-governmental organization, The St. Vincent & Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York.

Scope and Contents

The interview begins with Gailene Windsor's consideration of the political reasons why the Carnival in St. Vincent has declined in the years preceding 1995 and how the island's economy will be affected by the lack of Vincentian diaspora in the event. She discusses her involvement in promoting the culture of Vincentian community and her participation in the Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival. Windsor notes the lack of media coverage the Carnival receives and suggests political and community solutions. She addresses the cultural conflicts between the Hasidic Jewish and West Indian communities of Crown Heights, suggesting solutions to ease the tension. She also discusses the need for planning and financial support from the local government for the parade, noting the need for the Caribbean community to unify its population in order to gain political clout. Windsor addresses the emergence of technological advancements in Carnival mas costumes and music, noting the loss of steel pan music to soca, calypso and reggae. Interview conducted by Michael Roberts.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Windsor, Gailene

Subject Organizations

  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Ethnic identity
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Music
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- Kings County -x Social life and customs
  • Caribbean Americans -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Carnival
  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Race identity

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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Series 2: Oral History Transcripts

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Adams, Val
1994 September 24
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Adolphus, Jeffrey
1994 August 26
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Alexander, Jean
1994 June 27
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Alexander, Kendell
1994 July 29
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Brewster, Randy
1994 August 18
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Brewster, Winston
1995 March 29
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Byron, Cheryl
1994 September 29
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Cadogan, Glenda
1995 March 10
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Clavery, Francis "Jackie"
1994 August 18
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Cowie, Sylvia and Jamilla
1994 August 4
Box: 1 Folder : 11 DaSilva, Dwight
1994 July 29
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Davis, Kelvin "Fuzzy"
1994 September 7
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Davis, Paula
1994 September 19
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Dublin, Angela
1995 February 8
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Evelyn, Terry
1994 October 19
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Gilbert, Elimus
1995 February 15
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Lezama, Carlos
1994 October 19
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Pope, Kelvin "Duke"
1995 January 28
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Quamina, Joyce
1994 May 12
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Quamina, Joyce
1994 June 23
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Reid, Michelle Quamina
1994 June 19
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Remy, Kwame
1995 January 31
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Rennie, Yvette
1994 September 28
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Roberts, Michael
1994 July 28
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Seddio, Frank
1994 September 29
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Simpson, Charles
1994 September 14
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Smith, Frank
1994 July 21
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Stanislaus, Dr. Lamuel
1994 August 4
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Summaries
1994-1995
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Thomas, Tricia
1994 August 3
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Thompson, Jay
1994 October 5
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Toney, Joyce
1994 September 19
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Weeks, Dapne
1994 May 6
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Windsor, Gailene
1995 April 19
Box: 3-4 Cassettes
1994-1995

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Series 3: Photographs

Scope and Contents

This series includes: contact sheets; negatives from photographers H. Roger Celestin, Paul Lewis and Kristen Elmquist; 8 1/2 x 11 color prints by H. Roger Celestin; and 4 x 5 color prints by Dwan Reece King, Kristin Elmquist, Paul Lewis and H. Roger Celestin. Detailed explanations of the photographers and numbering of this series is located in the "Photo Documentation and Description" folder in box 5. "Photo Interviews and Descriptions" in box 5 contains photographs interspersed with descriptions and biographical information on those pictured. The photographs depict parade events, band rehearsals, costume making and many of the narrators from the oral history interviews in series 1. The individuals pictured include: Randy Brewster, Jackie Clavery, Daphne Weeks, Fuzzy Davis, Frankie and Claudette Wall Kenneth Antoine, Jeffrey Adolphus, Joyce Quamina, Michelle Quamina, Carlos Lezma, Cheryl Byron and Michael Roberts. The prints also depict the following groups and bands: Aquarium Productions, The Promise, St. Vincent, Casym Boys, T&T Garage Boys, JuJu Warriors Mas Camp, Savage, Pan Rebels, Rage, Pauline and Associates, Marge and Associates, Caribbean People's Organization, Utica Boys, Sesame Flyers, Hawks Fantasy Warrors, Amazonia, W. Millington Mas Productions, and Devils.
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Labor Day Carnival, #0001
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Casym Boys and Parents, #0002
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Roberts, Cheryl and Michael, #0003
undated
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Photo Documentation and Descriptions
1990s
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Negatives, Paul Lewis
1990s
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Lt. Stitchie, Ju-Ju Warriorrs Camp
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Saint Vincent, Casym Boys, T & T Garage Boys, Raphael and Friends, Aquarium, #5379
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 8 The Aquarium, The Prommise, #5378
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Crowds, Floats, Kiddie's Carnival
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 10 The Promise, Casym Boys, Pan Rebels, #5381
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 10 Antoine, Kenneth, Jeffrey Adolphus, Carib News, Saint Vincent, #5377
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 11 Caribbean People's Organization, Utica Boys, #5376
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 12 Pauline and Associates, Rage, Saint Vincent, Marge and Associates, #5348
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 13 Quamina, Joyce, Culture of Black Creation, Savage, #5388
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 14 Character of Bands and Reggae Night, #5363
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 15 Contact Sheets
1994
Box: 5 Folder : 17 Photo Interviews
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Labor Day Carnival
1995
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Brewster, Randy and Jackie Clavery
1995
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Kiddie's Carnival
1995
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Large Prints, #8323
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Pan Rebels and Charlie's
1995 July
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Negatives, Kiddie's Carnival, #9324
1995 September 2
Box: 6 Folder : 7 Negatives, Pan Rebels, Charlie's, #7116
1995 July
Box: 6 Folder : 8 Negatives, W. Millington and F. and C. Wall, #9088
1995 August
Box: 6 Folder : 9 Negatives, Daphne Weeks, Fuzzy Davis and Pan Rebels
1995 July
Box: 6 Folder : 10 Negatives, Randy Brewster and Jackie Clavery, #8865
1995 June 27
Box: 6 Folder : 11 Negatives, Labor Day Carnival, #9357
1995 September 4

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Series 4: Research Materials

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 7 Folder : 1 Articles
1992-1994
Box: 7 Folder : 2 Bands and Band Leaders
1988-1994
Box: 7 Folder : 3 Bibliographies
1989-1990s
Box: 7 Folder : 4 Brewster, Randy Materials
1984-1995
Box: 7 Folder : 5 Calypso/Steelband References
circa 1995
Box: 7 Folder : 6 Caribbean Community Issues
1988-1994
Box: 7 Folder : 7 Caribbean Festival Arts, Saint Louis Art Museum
1988
Box: 7 Folder : 8 Caribbean Stores in Brooklyn
circa 1995
Box: 7 Folder : 9 Carnivals in Other Cities
1989-1994
Box: 7 Folder : 10 Contacts
1995
Box: 7 Folder : 11 Distribution Materials
1980-1981, 1994-1995
Box: 7 Folder : 12 Everybody's Caribbean American Magazine
1990, 1994
Box: 7 Folder : 13 Everybody's Carribean American Magazine
1995
Box: 7 Folder : 14 Exhibit Objects (Potential)
1995
Box: 8 Folder : 1 General
1980s-1990s
Box: 8 Folder : 2 General
1987-1994, undated
Box: 8 Folder : 3 Grants
1994
Box: 8 Folder : 4 Guide to Resources
1995
Box: 8 Folder : 5 Hill, Donald R. "A History of West Indian Carnival in New York City to 1978"
1993 January
Box: 8 Folder : 6 Liverpool, Hollis Urban "Rituals of Power and Rebellion: the Carnival Tradition in Trinidad and Tobago"
1993
Box: 8 Folder : 7 Newspaper Articles
1990s
Box: 8 Folder : 8 Notting Hill Carnival
1980-1991
Box: 8 Folder : 9 Schomburg Center Photos (copies)
undated
Box: 8 Folder : 10 Trinidad Carnival
1970s-1990s
Box: 9 Item : 1-2 Carib Beat: The Entertainment Magazine
1994 June-July
Box: 9 Item : 3-10 The New York Carib News
1993-1994
Box: 9 Item : 11 New York Newsday Clipping
1994 September 16
Box: 9 Item : 12 New York Times Metro Section
1995 February
Box: 9 Item : 13 Village Voice
1994 September 6

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