BY NATHAN DUKE
This month marks the 52nd anniversary of Guyana becoming an independent nation.
The British had assumed control of Guyana from the Dutch in the late 1700s, but it wasn’t until May 26, 1966 that Guyana’s Golden Arrowhead replaced the Union Jack. The Caribbean nation went on to become a republic on Feb. 23, 1970 and remained a member of the Commonwealth.
The United States has the largest population of Guyanese people outside of the Caribbean nation and a vast majority of Guyanese immigrants live in the American northeast. Some of the largest populations can be found in Richmond Hill, Flatbush, various upstate New York communities and parts of New Jersey. In New York City, sections of Richmond Hill and Ozone Park are known as “Little Guyana” due to a stretch of stores and eateries operated by Guyanese immigrants.
To celebrate the 52nd anniversary of Guyana’s independence, our sister-publication the Queens Tribune profiled four prominent persons of Guyanese descent, displayed below.
Guyana’s independence celebration kicked off in the city on Sunday with an interfaith service in the Academic Core Building at York College in Jamaica. In Brooklyn, a celebration of the anniversary will run from June 3 to 10 and include a flag-raising ceremony, independence parade, unity concert, festival and cup soccer tournament.
Harris-Stoute was born in Guyana and migrated to the United States in 1993. In 2012, she launched —Guyanese Girls Rock—a blog that celebrates the accomplishments and achievements of Guyanese women across the globe. The blog gew into, Guyanese Girls Rock Foundation, a Queens-based nonprofit that kicked off its leadership academy in January at the Queens Central Library. On June 23, the foundation is hosting its first major fundraiser—the Guyanese Girls Rock Foundation Awards and Luncheon, which will honor 10 women from the Guyanese community with Women of Influence awards.
Linda McPherson, a native of Georgetown, Guyana, arrived in Brooklyn as a teenager accustomed to small-town life. She quickly adapted to New York City’s pace and over the course of two decades has risen through union ranks to become president of District Council 1707 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, overseeing 30,000 members in the Tri-state area. McPherson directly credits her success as a union leader to her upbringing in Guyana, where the community base was very strong, much like a union community.
Persaud, who goes by “Ray,” migrated from Guyana to the United States in 1973 at 9 years of age, due to political corruption in his home country at the time. In his 54 years of life, Persaud worked in careers ranging from piloting, to car service, to billing. Since 2009, Persaud has dedicated himself to working for the city’s Department of Corrections, all while serving his fellow South Asian community by acting as the vice president of the DESI Society.
In 2018, Lall-Ramnaraine was awarded the Faculty Excellence in Scholarship award at Queensborough Community College, a milestone in her career researching and designing ionic liquids–liquid salts. The compounds are used in sustainable energy products like longer-lasting lithium ion batteries. After graduating from the University of Guyana in 1995, she settled in Queens and went on to receive a master’s degree in chemistry from Queens College and then a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.