Artifacts – spanning the first 50 years of the Manhattan-based Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society – will star in exhibit at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

The free “Lighthouse in New York” display, which offers a rare glimpse into the  lives, activities and struggles of early Caribbean immigrants in New York, opens  Sept. 27

Edwina Ashie-Nikoi (l.), archivist with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, stands with Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society officers Mona Wyre-Manigo and Gina Philip (r.) during the 2010 transfer of the society’s historical documents to the center.

Edwina Ashie-Nikoi (l.), archivist with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, stands with Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society officers Mona Wyre-Manigo and Gina Philip (r.) during the 2010 transfer of the society’s historical documents to the center.

Those who think Caribbean immigrants are newcomers to New York really need to  think again. The 79-year-old Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society shatters  that untruth.

The Manhattan-based organization will have its history and decades-long  dedication to Caribbean culture and Harlem, and some of its artifacts, touted in  “A Lighthouse in New York: Opening Reception & Panel Discussion,” a free  exhibition at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X  Blvd. (at W. 135th St.), from 6 p.m to 9 p.m., in Manhattan, on Sept. 27.

Attendees at the Schomburg opening must register, so visit http://bit.ly/lighthouseinnewyork.  The exhibit closes Jan. 4, 2014.

“Everything is going very, very well,” society spokeswoman Mona Wyre Manigo  said of the exhibition, which reflects the trials and tribulations of Caribbean  peoples — here and abroad — over the organization’s first 50 years of  existence. “It’s going to be an exciting moment for Antigua and Barbuda. I’ve  looked at the documents and every time I think about it, I get chills.”

For example, said Manigo, there are documents about an urgent meeting calling  “all Caribbean people in Harlem” to support a letter to Britain, demanding that  the head of colonial Antigua be removed from office for mistreating island  residents. Antigua and Barbuda gained independence from Britain in 1981.

The donated materials also contain historic correspondence from institutions  and individuals, such as Antigua Trades and Labour Union President V.C. Bird,  before he became Antigua and Barbuda’s first prime minister.

Donated in 2011, the historic records provide a detailed glimpse into  migration to New York and the life and pursuits of new arrivals. The records  will later be available for researchers.

In 1934, James Roberts and 22 other Antiguan immigrants started the Antigua  Progressive Society, which was incorporated the following year with the goals of  promoting their culture, aiding members and their families in times of sickness  and death, aiding their Caribbean homeland and encouraging “educational  excellence” among youth.

It's 79 years old and still growing! As Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society President M. Roz Olatunji (l.) and the Rev. John Harris (center) of the Bronx's Ebenezer Pilgrim Holiness Church look on, Jerome Simon (r.) is pinned into the organization by Vice President Gina Philip at the 2013 inductee ceremony.

It’s 79 years old and still growing! As Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society President M. Roz Olatunji (l.) and the Rev. John Harris (center) of the Bronx’s Ebenezer Pilgrim Holiness Church look on, Jerome Simon (r.) is pinned into the organization by Vice President Gina Philip at the 2013 inductee ceremony.

The Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society was created through a 2010 bylaw  change designed to incorporate Barbudian New Yorkers who were served by the  now-defunct Barbuda Benevolent Society of America. The Barbuda group was  established in 1915 and lasted 62 years.

Today, Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society members continue to work hard  at maintaining cultural — and many civic — commitments under a board of  directors, including President M. Roz. Olatunji. The group meets monthly at  society headquarters, the Antigua and Barbuda House on W. 122nd St. in  Harlem.

In addition to aiding Antiguan and Barbudian nationals, the children in the  Harlem and other projects, the group fulfills its civic responsibility by  participating in the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association,  Central Harlem’s Community Board 10 and the 28th Precinct Community Council.

In October, the society will commemorate its birthday with a 79th  Anniversary Celebration and Awards Banquet, “Honoring Our Past and Embracing Our  Future.” The event will be held Oct. 19 in the faculty dining hall of the City  College Of New York, 160 Covent Ave., from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Donation is $75 and  proceeds will aid the organization’s building renovation fund.

For organization and event information, call (212) 933-4008, send email to  contact@ABPSociety.org and visit www.abpsociety.org  .

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/immigration-artifacts-display-article-1.1456430#ixzz2f0aDwONI

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