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West Indian Day Parade carnival lights up Bed-Stuy Black Lives Matter mural

West Indian Day Parade carnival lights up Bed-Stuy Black Lives Matter mural

west indian day
Performers clad in colorful red costumes with stilt dancers and youths at the carnival display on Fulton Street on Sept. 5.
Que - BlacklivesMatter Collective

Bedford-Stuyvesant came alive with colorful revelers on Saturday during the West Indian Day Parade’s carnival display on the Fulton Street Black Lives Matter mural.

The event — hosted by the Bed-Stuy Mural Collective, the office of Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr., the Bedford-Stuyvesant “Gateway” BID, and others — presented costumed performances by children and stilt dancers, much to the delight of a limited audience clad in face masks.

With social distancing protocol in place, officials have had to sideline several events associated with the West Indian Day Parade — but that did not stop nationals from enjoying the Sept. 5 celebration of the Caribbean diaspora.

The event was one of several celebrations of this year’s West Indian Day Parade — themed “Back to Love” — although organizers moved most of the revelry online. J’ouvert City International held a live-streamed event from 7 am to noon on Monday honoring essential workers and Black Lives Matter activists, and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association held a 12-hour virtual celebration that featured a dance party and costumes.

The Saturday celebration, one of the few events held in-person, featured health and wellness activities, a musical performance by Anslem Douglas courtesy of 500 Men Making a Difference, and a steelpan medley by 11-year old Musical Marli.

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Anne Rhea-Smith, publicist at FUNSATION4 and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, shows off her costume at the carnival display.Que – BlacklivesMatter Collective

Monique Antoine, a programming coordinator for the event, said that the Bedford-Stuyvesant Mural Collective has hosted wellness activities including yoga, aerobics, and exercise on the site of the mural in the weeks leading up to the carnival display.

The group decided to continue the wellness activities through Labor Day weekend and to host the Carnival event on the pedestrian-only block located between Marcy and Brooklyn avenues in light of the parade’s cancellation, she added

“We wanted to bring the spirit of the Caribbean to the mural,” said Antoine, adding that Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada, Barbados, and other Islands were represented at the event.

One Trinidad-born fashion designer said that the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted her small business.

“I was unable to do fashion shows. This is where I made most of my money,” said Sandra Jules of Brooklyn-based SanJules Unique Art Creations Inc.

“It is tough, but I had to do something different to survive. This has made my business stronger, because I can see there are new possibilities. I work hard, and I educated myself, to learn the marketing side of the business, for the future.”

west indian day
Young performers put on a spectacular display on the Black Lives Matter mural on Fulton Street.Que – BlacklivesMatter Collective

The carnival display is one of many recent events held at the site of the Black Lives Matter mural, which was painted in June across from Restoration Plaza. Stakeholders have hosted the community activities to spread awareness of the new pedestrian-only block — which Councilman Cornegy hopes to convert into a permanent pedestrian plaza — and to drive foot traffic to the plaza’s businesses. 

“The goal is to bring awareness about the mural, but not only that, to help bring safe, and large foot traffic to the businesses of Bed-Stuy,” Lynette Battle, deputy director of the Bedford Gateway Business Improvement District, told Brooklyn Paper in August.

This story first appeared on Caribbean Life

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