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Brooklyn Children’s Museum Celebrates Caribbean Heritage Month Finale

A day of dancing, storytelling, workshops, and culinary delights at the Brooklyn Children's Museum made for a wonderful conclusion to Caribbean Heritage Month.

Alison Moore-Alexis with her daughter, Eva, at The Little Caribbean Time Capsule. Photo: Ralph Thomassaint Joseph for Documented

A day of dancing, storytelling, workshops, and culinary delights at The Brooklyn Children’s Museum made for a wonderful conclusion to National Caribbean American Heritage Month in New York City. 

The museum collaborated with the community advocacy organization I AM CARIBBEING, which showcases Caribbean culture, to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Caribbean with the Little Caribbean Time Capsule festival. This dynamic, intergenerational event invited families to immerse themselves in the traditions, stories, and rhythms of the islands.

The day-long event which took place on June 29 featured the sounds, sights, and tastes of the Caribbean, including dance classes, storytelling sessions, food tastings and art-making workshops.

“We often come to the Children’s Museum, but because they were focusing on the Caribbean and our family’s from the Caribbean, I was like, Oh, we definitely come in today,” said Alison Moore-Alexis, who attended with her three-year-old daughter, Eva.

Dance teacher Michelle Cole teaching dancehall to participants. Photo: Ralph Thomassaint Joseph for Documented

On the first floor, dance teacher Michelle Cole led two joyful sessions teaching dancehall to children and their parents. The workshops walked them through the history of dancehall in Jamaica, its variations and patterns, culminating in learning and performing some of its signature dance moves. The room was filled with laughter and energy as families experienced the vibrant culture of Jamaica firsthand.

“It’s really special to me, and important to me to be able to share my knowledge with children, to see their bright smiles and for them to light up and their bodies moving so freely. And for it to also be a culture that resonates with them and for them to feel reflected in their learning. I think that’s so key in dance education,” said Cole.

Families also gathered on the second floor to listen to Jamaican author Glasmine Scully read her book, “Ebony Locks and the Star Apple Tree.” The story follows a young girl captivated by a star apple tree, leading her on a journey through Jamaica’s countryside. 

Jamaican author Glasmine Scully reading her book “Ebony Locks and the Star Apple Tree.” Photo: Ralph Thomassaint Joseph for Documented

Scully passionately shares her Caribbean culture and heritage through storytelling to help others understand her culture and encourage Caribbean children to embrace their heritage.

“I want them to read, understand, and learn about the different cultures, especially Jamaica’s. I want our children of Black complexion to celebrate themselves, and children of different complexions to look into them and see beauty in them also,” the author said.

Nico Zapata, a Dominican-American, and his wife Ruth, from El Salvador, were among the most attentive parents during story time with their six-year-old daughter, Isabella. Zapata said the story brought back many memories of the island, which Isabella had visited twice.

“Many times, we talk to our daughter living here about what we have in the Caribbean. So a lot of things that she’s seen or had, she’s forgotten, but there’s a lot of things that she does know very well,” Zapata said.

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Parents shared moments with their kids while creating a time capsule to capture and preserve the moment. They colored pictures of Caribbean fruits while having the actual fruits in front of them for a tactile experience. They named fruits, learned about trees and vegetables, and named streets based on their preferences.

The Little Caribbean Time Capsule festival at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Photo: Ralph Thomassaint Joseph for Documented

According to Shelley Worrell, co-founder of I AM CARIBBEING, the Little Caribbean Time Capsule is the organization’s first event dedicated to children.

“This is definitely a way to plant a seed,” said Worrell. “It takes time to germinate. But I think it’s a great opportunity for kids, whether they’re Caribbean or not.”

“This event is a chance for diverse audiences, including those new to Caribbean culture, to connect with us, see themselves represented through activities, and introduce them to our heritage,” said Atiba T. Edwards, the museum’s President and CEO.

For many years, the museum has had an exhibition called Caribbean Travel Agency “to highlight all the different diversity that make up Caribbean culture, and also just cultures in Brooklyn,” according to Edwards.

Edwards, who grew up in Brooklyn and was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is the first Black person appointed as the museum’s president since it was established in 1975.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum President and CEO Atiba T. Edwards, in front of the exhibit Caribbean Travel Agency. Photo: Ralph Thomassaint Joseph for Documented

The day closed with a rooftop fête, a Caribbean-style party for people of all ages. Participants enjoyed Caribbean music while savoring delicious foods and drinks. Music filled the air as attendees danced and celebrated, creating a lively festive atmosphere.

This year, Caribbean Heritage Month was celebrated with various cultural activities across New York City. Among other events, I AM CARIBBEING hosted One Love Fest, “a festival that celebrated Caribbean culture through music, crafts, dance, and food.”

I AM CARIBBEING celebrates and amplifies Caribbean culture, supports businesses, fosters community, and documents and creates culture. Its efforts led to the designation of the Little Caribbean neighborhood in Brooklyn, which includes parts of Flatbush, East Flatbush, and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.

Edwards announced that the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is seeking new partnerships and planning additional Caribbean celebration events. In August, Caribbean Heritage will be celebrated with a similar event in collaboration with Sesame Flyers International, a Brooklyn community organization that empowers through cultural events.

“We know the Caribbean community makes up a key part of Brooklyn, and we try to make sure that they have a space in here, too,” Edwards said.

Ralph Thomassaint Joseph

Ralph Thomassaint Joseph is the Caribbean Communities Correspondent for Documented. He studied Law and Sociology in Haiti and holds a master’s degree in Digital Journalism from New York University.

@ralphthjo

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