For the second year in a row, COVID dashed away New York City staples; Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Monday what so many revelers already feared: there will be no traditional J’ouvert, the annual pre-dawn celebration that precedes the West Indian Day.
J’ouvert and the West Indian Day Parade are not going away altogether. Organizers have pivoted to make the best of the COVID situation.
Samantha Bernadine of J’ouvert City International said the traditional party and parade route of years past through Crown Heights and Flatbush, Brooklyn is evolving into an ongoing awareness campaign to the site of a burial ground for free and enslaved Africans in Flatbush at the corner of Church and Bedford Avenues.
“We’re partnering up with other organizations to build awareness,” Bernadine said.”Our goal is to inform the community that enslaved Africans are buried here and we want to be able to have remembrance.”
At issue is an ongoing discussion to possibly convert the corner lot into housing.
Bernadine says a number of upcoming workshops are in the works, including a walking tour of the lots and other buildings relevant to African and Caribbean history and culture.
“Our goal is not have housing here, but have a place of reflection that honors the traditions of Africans as well as those who are from the Caribbean diaspora,” Bernadine said.
Fr those who thought the West Indian Day Parade was going silent this this year, there’s good news.
Shyka Scotland of the West Indian Day American Carnival Day Association says concerts are on the agenda for this upcoming weekend.
“This year we are definitely doing live events from Thursday night to Monday night,” Scotland said. “We will have an event every single night.”
You can find out more about the modified schedule for this weekend’s parade at carnival.nyc.
For more information on walking tours and other upcoming awareness events sponsored by J’ouvert organizers, check them out on Instagram.