It was an evening to remember, Jazz Meets Fashion- the Birthday celebration of Dr. Una S. T. Clarke, CD, which took place at Galapagos Art Space [Dumbo] New York, Sunday December 1. The massive turnout was not a surprise as hundreds poured into every nook and cranny of the venue. The outpouring of love was for an indomitable personality, a doyen of the Caribbean-American community, a trailblazer and the grand -dame of the New York political scene.
Having spent a decade in the New York City Council in which she delivered substantive bills and spearheaded numerous measures to benefit the minority communities she represented; and having successfully guided many political aspirants to successful careers; Dr. Clarke has demonstrated her mettle and cemented her legacy. Her groundbreaking entry as the first Caribbean-born woman to enter the New York City Legislature has proven to be timeless and [more than] rewarding as so many have followed in her footsteps.
With her husband of close to 54 years, (December 19) Leslie at her side, her
two kids: Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and Leslie Jr., and her three grand kids she basked in the glow of all the positive energy in the room. It was a feast of embrace, hugs and pure joy.
In an astounding show of support, the New City Political elites were out in full force, led by New York City Mayor-elect, Bill de Blasio and wife Chirlane McCray. His tribute to her was the highlight of the evening. He spoke of their bond and her steadfast support in his recent election bid, helping him to get over the 40% needed to avoid a run-off. As she joined him on stage she did the ‘40.1’ jig—a signal to “her mantra,” throughout the campaign.
She was showered with adulation and love. Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President and soon to be Comptroller brought greetings as did current comptroller, John Lui. So did Brooklyn Borough President-elect, Eric Adams, NYC Public Advocate-elect, Letitia James; Congressman Hakeem Jeffries; Brooklyn DA-elect, Ken Thompson and Melissa Mark Viverito, Council Member, Harlem.
Also present were N. Nick Perry, New York State Assemblyman, Robert Carnegie, Councilmember-elect; Sandra Chapman, Brooklyn Deputy Borough President Rose Pierre Hyacinth Lewis, Deputy Borough President, and Rodneyse Bichot, District Leader.
Among the other distinguished guests in the room: Michael Gaskard, VP of the Advanced Group; Tom Montvel Cohen, President, Dumbo BID; Morshed Alam, of the South Asian and Bangladeshi Business Community with a six-member delegation; Chanina Sperlin, Rabbi and Chair of the Political Action Committee, Crown Heights; Dr. Roy Hastick, President, the West Indian-American Chamber of Commerce and wife, Edith; Monica Foster, F&R Installations; and Veronica Airey-Wilson, former deputy Mayor, the City of Hartford. From the Clergy, Reverend Bishop Eric Barnes, Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Bishop Sylveta Hamilton-Gonzales and Pastor Samuel Nicolas who delivered the Invocation.
Elda Pinchinate, Jersey City, City Council presented a special award to both Dr. Clarke and Congresswoman Clarke. Bondongani Sadika, of South Africa, presented her with an award for her her efforts in the movement to free former South African President, Nelson Mandela.
It was a grand event with thrilling, musical moments and a breathtakingly, beautiful fashion show by couture designer, Trinidad’s own Francis Hendy. Little Douglas, (only nine); a dancer in the Tony Award, Broadway production Kinky Boots, wowed the audience with two dance numbers. The evening’s entertainment however was kicked off by Brooklyn Jazz: The Jeff King Band. They were nothing short of amazing for their almost 30 minute set. Next up was `the artiste,’ and Jazz Songbird Felina Backer who delivered a stellar performance. It was pure magic when she serenaded Dr. Clarke and husband as they waltzed to the Etta James number, “At Last”. Master of Ceremonies, (former of Director of Tourism-Jamaica), Noel Mignott, kept the proceedings flowing nicely throughout the evening. Walter Greene eminent fashion compere, narrated the fashion show. It was couture heaven as the close to thirty male and female models worked the runway. Hendy, who also does New York Fashion Week, showed why he is highly regarded. He presented a most professional and dazzling show.
The event was also a fundraiser for Clarke for Congress, a fact reinforced
throughout the evening with the reminder that unlike previous years, in 2014 primaries will be held in June as opposed to the usual September.