I live on Manhattan’s upper eastside, across from Gracie Mansion, the beautiful 1799 Federal-style house that overlooks the East River and is the residence of New York’s mayor and his family.
On any given day I may see cops, TV cameras, and angry protesters in front of the Mansion, or buses discharging tourists, or dignitaries arriving in limos.
And just as often I may see happy crowds, dressed in their finery and leaving the Mansion after a gala event. One evening some months ago it was the latter.
As I was walking home I saw dozens of people spilling out of the Mansion, many in beautiful African garb – women in caftans with matching head wraps and scarfs, and men in colorful tunics and shirts and kufis.
Our city has the largest African community in the nation, and I remembered this was the night the mayor had hosted an African Heritage Reception for 1,000 men and women from over 50 countries.
The crowd was jubilant, laughing and talking, and I couldn’t help stopping one young man as he walked by.
“How was the reception?”, I asked him.
“It was marvelous!”, he said, “There were people from so many countries, and inspiring speakers, and great music, and excellent food – you must come yourself next year!”
“Thank you,” I said, “but I’m not African.”
“That’s no matter,” he said, “it’s such a wonderful event, you’d be most welcome!”
Did I tell you I ❤️ New York?
Dana Susan Lehrman