A 'moment of unprecedented assault on truth'
Caribbean legislators decry discrimination during Black History Month celebration
CLARKE... our African American forebears rose above oppression and helped create the greatest nation the modern world has ever seen

NEW YORK, United States (CMC) — Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke says it is unfortunate that she is celebrating Black History Month during "a moment of unprecedented assault on truth by those desperate to rewrite America's history in this troubling time of banned books and council curricula".

"It is with great urgency that I stand before you to celebrate the profound history of our nation that far too many far-right zealots are fighting to conceal," Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on Saturday.

Clarke, the first vice-chair of the US Congressional Black Caucus, said: "This is a special month defined in equal parts triumphant tragedy, and centred in pride and appreciation, because our African American forebears rose above oppression and helped create the greatest nation the modern world has ever seen.

"Make no mistake, only the ashamed and the afraid hide from history," Clarke continued. "Black Americans never have and never will, for ours is a story of victory over adversity, determination in the face of uncertainty, and the courage of our convictions.

"Our story is America's story," she said. "So, let us never forget, let us never concede, let us never be silenced when we say that black history is American history."

Clarke's statement comes as the Brooklyn Democratic Party honours the contributions, triumphs and tribulations of blacks who have "indelibly shaped our nation — and those who continue to do so".

Party chair, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, noted that the national theme for 2023 for Black History Month is " 'Black Resistance', recognising the historic and ongoing oppression that black Americans have faced and resisted in all forms".

She added: "This month is a poignant time to recognise the black community's continued resilience in the face of discrimination," said Bichotte Hermelyn who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn. "The adversities African Americans have faced — and continue to face to this day — while overcoming through triumphs are both a central part of our country's history and shape our continued efforts to ensure equality and overcome hatred.

"Black History Month is not only a celebration of the pioneering contributions of those who paved a trail before us but also a driving force to continue their fight for a better future," she said.

In honouring Brooklyn's black pioneers, past and present, Bichotte Hermelyn said, "New York and Brooklyn have always been at the centre of the fight for justice and equality".

The Brooklyn Democratic Party chair said Weeksville, Brooklyn, was home to one of the first free black communities in the United States.

"We're also home to the African Burial Ground, the first national monument dedicated to Africans and African Americans of New York's earliest days, which can still be visited today," she said.

Bichotte Hermelyn also highlighted New Yorkers like the late, former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm — a native Brooklynite — who served in the State Assembly, became the first African American woman to serve in Congress, and later became the first female and first black major party candidate for president.

Chisholm, the daughter of Barbadian and Guyanese immigrants, "showed and still inspire that greatness can be achieved despite the barriers that exist", Bichotte-Hermelyn said.

She said Brooklyn has also increased black Brooklynites's political representation, including many black pioneers, in almost every office at the city, state and federal levels.

She noted that Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a native Brooklynite, just last month officially became the first black leader of a major party in the US Congress.

Bichotte Hermelyn said New York State Attorney General Letitia James, also a Brooklynite, is the first woman of colour to hold statewide office in New York, and the first woman to be elected New York attorney general.

BICHOTTE HERMELYN... this month is a poignant time to recognise the black community's continued resilience in the face of discrimination (Photo: Brooklyn Paper)

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