¡Presente! with pride
Story and photos by Mónica Barnkow
There are breakfasts, and then there are desayunos.
For those marching in Sunday’s 37th Annual Dominican Day Parade, there was real fuel to be had in the early morning at Inwood restaurant District 12.
There was mangu, the traditional plantain mash with sautéed red onions, toast, eggs, cheese, salami beside massive urns of strong coffee and juice.
The gathering has become an annual tradition, attended by elected officials and community residents en masse.
The pre-parade breakfast was hosted by the Northern Manhattan Democrats for Change, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, and Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez. Also present were State Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx; Councilmember Rafael Espinal of Brooklyn; and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Sen. Espaillat said the parade was an enduring cultural event of significance, one that knit together generations and honored traditions.
“I believe the parade can play a role in helping the youth keep a connection with Dominican Republic,” he said. “That is important.”
Borough President Brewer said that such events also brought together the borough’s residents and its leadership.
“I am here today because I am a supporter of the Dominican community,” she said. “As a representative of Manhattan, I go from Washington Heights down to the Battery.”
Among those honored at the event were New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli; Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James; New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; and Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 President John Samuelsen.
“Today, everyone’s Dominican, and so am I,” said Public Advocate James.
State Comptroller DiNapoli said that all New York joined in celebrating “all things Dominican and [what the community has added] to the strength and vitality of New York City.”
In accepting her award, City Council Speaker Mark Viverito said she would persist in advancing an inclusive agenda.
“I will continue to fight on behalf of issues that are important, not only to the Puerto Rican community or to the Latino community but for all of us,” she said. “We want social justice and social equity.”
TWU President Samuelsen noted that the union boasted a significant number of members of Dominican heritage, all “of [whom] we are very proud.”
He said his work and advocacy on behalf of all TWU members was the reason for the distinction, and he accepted on their behalf.
“We represent an incredible diverse membership,” he said. “I’m most certainly here to honor them as well.”
As the speakers issued their remarks, those in attendance murmured and cheered in response, and many waved the Dominican flag.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer reminded those in attendance about his local connections.
“When we were growing up here, we had great dreams and great aspirations,” he said. “The diversity of this community was always so brave and so proud.”
For Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez, the festivities reflected more than just pride, but mirrored a shifting cultural, social and political landscape.
“The city of New York has changed,” he said. “Dominicans and Latinos have to look at ourselves within the context we represent.”
For more on the breakfast and the 37th Annual Dominican Day Parade, please visit www.manhattantimesnews.com.