Queens, NY: Jackson Heights in the Queens Borough in New York has come to be recognized as the hub of multi-culturalism. But for Indian Americans, it’s their prime center, where one will find dozens of Indian businesses flourish with the active support of the influential Indian American community.
Recognizing the presence of these diverse groups, representing peoples from around the world, showcasing different cultures, a stretch of road in New York’s Jackson Heights, was officially co-named “Diversity Plaza.”
“Diversity Plaza has truly become a neighborhood gathering point for Jackson Heights and Elmhurst residents,” said New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). The plaza serves as a town square, concert stage, festival space and cafe year round. There is always something exciting taking place there,” Dromm said at the co-naming ceremony.
Others who were present at the event included U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), N.Y.C. Public Advocate Letitia James (D-NYC), Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (D-Queens), N.Y. State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Queens), the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), the Friends of Diversity Plaza, SUKHI New York, and the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, among others.
“We are very excited about the co-naming ceremony and the designation of our special public space as, officially, Diversity Plaza,” said Shekar Krishnan, Chair of Friends of Diversity Plaza. “As the gateway to Jackson Heights, it is a reflection of the incredible cultural vibrancy and diversity of our neighborhood,” he said.
“I’m proud to see my vision of Diversity Plaza as the capital of the living United Nations in New York City became real,” said Agha Saleh, founder of SUKHI, a nonprofit for South Asian community in New York. “SUKHI’s inclusive team of diversity lead by two women, Shazia Kausar and Fatima Baryab, and their dedicated work with Council Member Dromm at 37th Road during the past four years made this plaza famous around the world,” Saleh said.
In a statement Mayor Bill de Blasio noted that Diversity Plaza has been a mainstay of Jackson Heights – one of the most diverse neighborhoods in one of the most diverse cities on earth – for years. “We are proud to stand with Council Member Dromm and the people of Queens to formally recognize the importance of this plaza for the folks here — who speak over 150 languages,” the mayor said.
The name “Diversity Plaza” was coined by Dromm’s former chief of staff Will Sweeney who lives in Jackson Heights. The co-naming ceremony coincided with World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, designated by the United Nations in 2002. A special performance by Calpulli Mexican Dance Company followed Dromm’s remarks and the unveiling of the official “Diversity Plaza” street sign.