Forty new American citizens were sworn in on the grounds of King Manor Museum last Friday, pledging their public oath and allegiance to this nation.
Remarks from immigration officials and oaths administered by Judge Sanket J. Bushar of the Eastern District of New York marked the long-awaited day for many, which coincided with Citizenship and Constitution Day.
The naturalization ceremony was part of a larger welcoming of 21,000 citizens in 355 ceremonies across the country last week, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Karen Jachero, one of Queens’ newest citizens from Ecuador, said the joyous day was six years in the making.
“I’m excited and ready for my new path as a citizen,” Jachero said, clutching her newly received naturalization documents. “For me it was very important to get U.S. citizenship so I can bring my mom from my country and, of course, to have the right to vote. I was waiting for this for so long.”
Following the ceremony, Jacero and others re-enacted what the founding fathers did 234 years ago: signing their name to the U.S. Constitution.
Bushar spoke to the significance of King Manor Museum, the home of Rufus King, serving as the host for the Friday morning event.
“Decades before the civil war, he spoke out against slavery when it was a radical thing to do,” said Bushar. “He was able to do so because our United States Constitution protects freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly, rights that are forever shrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.”
The magistrate judge for the Eastern District of New York said his district, which serves over 8 million people, is one of the most diverse places in the country and possibly the world.
“More languages, customs, international cuisine and houses of worship are found here than anywhere else,” said Bushar, who added that his parents became citizens in the 1970’s, shortly after immigrating from India.
“They came in search of opportunities not available anywhere else,” he added. “They first landed in Queens and moved to LeFrak City with only a few dollars to their name and with big dreams. I am grateful that they took this first step that made it possible for me to become a judge.”
The swearing-in ceremony concluded with a final Pledge of Allegiance and the distribution of official documents.
“I am sure you will always hold close to your hearts your native lands and its people and its customs, as you should,” said Bushar. “You today have all made the decision on this day to embrace the United States of America as your country. The United States is richer for all the traditions and history you bring from your native lands.”
South Queens Women’s March (SQWM) held the opening night of its inaugural art exhibition “Made in Queens” last Saturday.
The exhibit is on view at King Manor Museum at 150-03 Jamaica Avenue inside Rufus King Park in Jamaica.
“We exist to connect women, girls and gender-fluid people with the tools they need to thrive,” said Aminta Kilawan-Narine, founder and director of SQWM. “This includes access to the arts.”
“Made in Queens” is SQWM’s attempt decolonize the art world. The exhibit highlights local BIPOC artists, one of the least represented groups in the art world.
“We’ve made it a point to use art as a catalyst for social and political change, and as part of healing in our work to curb gender-based violence,” added Kilawan-Narine. “What you will see in King Manor Museum is emblematic of our voice being our power. These pieces literally live out loud.”
The exhibit will feature works by Veli V, Kerry Cox, Amy Simon, Seema Shakti, Amelia Inderjeit, Farhana Akther, Movina Seepersaud, Kim David, Juliet James, Angela Miskis, Maria Liebana, Shristi Sookram, Sherese Francis and Giancarlo Vargas.
It is curated by SQWM board member Fatima Shabbir.
“Art has the ability to heal, provoke, tell stories and build communities,” said Shabbir. Through the selection and design process, I was constantly thinking about art accessibility and community representation. This is an exhibit I wanted to see growing up in Queens and one I‘ve always wanted to participate in.”
The opening night was sponsored by The Nest Restaurant and Bar, Mr. Wonton Queens, High Profile Sounds and Events, and Renee K Productions.
Artists were presented with citations from Mayor Bill de Blasio in recognition of their contributions to New York City’s cultural and arts landscape.
Made in Queens will be open to the public from May 16 through September 15 at the former home of Rufus King, a framer and signer of the United States Constitution.
“Once Rufus and Mary King’s bedroom, this room had been a cluttered storage space for decades and we look forward to welcoming more artists and other community members into the space,” said museum executive director Kelsey Brow. “The contrast of contemporary art with the nearly 250-year-old architecture brings such vibrancy to the museum and fits perfectly with our vision of using lessons from the past to shine a light on contemporary issues.”
To view the exhibit, members of the public must book a reservation at kingmanor.org.