Jamaica residents, culture featured as ‘unsung greats’

| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes
THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Creator Brian Tate launched the Queens Royalty website with the Jamaica Center BID, and member Melissa Hodge, to promote the culture of downtown Jamaica.

The development of downtown Jamaica is no longer limited to new buildings and facilities. A website dedicated to revealing community art and neighborhood loyalty is making a buzz.

Queens Royalty, the site launched earlier this year, came from “a desire to counteract some of the negative perception of downtown Jamaica,” said Felicia Tunnah, executive director at the Jamaica Center BID, the group that sponsored the project.

“The idea is to celebrate the history but also celebrate the people who are here now and who are doing great things,” she said.

The Jamaica-centric site features residents, the “unsung greats,” and their stories, as well as photos of both local celebrities and community members. It also focuses attention on iconic buildings throughout the neighborhood, such as the landmarked Jamaica High School.

“They are our neighbors and loved ones, who always push forward and reach back. They are our elders and youth, who have experienced history and beckon the future,” the website’s description says.

Brian Tate, creator and producer, wanted a heavy emphasis on the area’s youth.

“Sometimes, the young people are seen as a problem. So I wanted to start there,” he said. “The youth aren’t a problem. They’re the future.”

Queens Royalty commissioned four acclaimed photographers – Barron Claiborne, Delphine Diaw Diallo, Russell Frederick, and Jamel Shabazz – to capture a mix of local artists, entrepreneurs, students, and families.

Tate said he wanted to make these people “a part of the story, to shape what the story is and how that story is told.”

“I think there’s a lot of love among the people in Jamaica,” he said. “It’s just having a vehicle for them to express that. It’s promoting a place from the inside out.”

To make the vision a reality, Tate and the BID partnered with Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, NYC Small Business Services, the Economic Development Corporation, Borough President Helen Marshall, the 165th Street Mall and Sutphin Boulevard BID.

Tunnah said the website is “a place for people to share their own stories and really just to continue the dialogue and celebrate what’s happening here.”

Visit www.queensroyalty.org to discover more and submit a story of your own.





  • louise grinner

    what an inspiring story reporter haynes brings to the readers today! it certainly presents a side of jamaica with which i was not familiar. producer brian tate has done a beautiful job of showcasing the talents,creativity and work of QUEENS ROYALTY.

  • http://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/ Joe Moretti

    Kudos to a new website on Jamaica Queens. Great job. Looks good.

    Too bad Helen Marshall, one of the worst Queens Borough Presidents, in all her twelve years never really gave a hand to help cleanup and improve Jamaica. She as well as many of our other leaders certainly dropped the ball big time on that one.

  • Brian

    I’m curious as to why J Moretti is always ragging Jamaica? He’s so concerned about the filth & crime, run for office & do a better job than then office holders now. Where do u live? Are u so concerned about your own community? You sure have a lot of concern for Jamaica & the people who live & serve in the area.

    • http://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/ Joe Moretti

      I am not “ragging” on Jamaica (which is where I live and why I have concern about the community I live in), I am just telling the truth about the community, both the good and the bad. But obviously people cannot handle the truth about a community that is been on a down slide for decades due to some of the residents and the poor leaders. I do what I can do to help improve the area by exposing the many atrocities that exist as well as point out the good and the gems, which is what my blog does. I have spent many hours of my free time, helping to clean up the major garbage problem and making sure that city agencies take care of the many illegal dumping areas and the many violations that are prevalent in Jamaica..

      So you go ahead and act like there are no big issues in Jamaica and just ignore them (major garbage problem, corrupt leaders, vacant lots and homes, crime, shoddy development, tearing down of nice homes for cheap apartments), but I will continue to be real. Out of all of Queens, Jamaica is the worst when it comes to quality of life issues, and if you and others do not see that, you are either blind, do not want to come to terms with it, your standards are too low or you feel that is it just normal. I guess you feel that the corrupt leaders like Malcolm Smith, Shirley Huntley, Gregory Meeks, Ruben Wills, Vivian Cook are doing a fine job courtesy of the tax payers hard earned money.

      Get real.

      In the meantime I and others will do what we need to do.

    • http://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/ Joe Moretti

      By the way take a look at this huge garbage dump at the St. Albans Little League field, whom Councilman Comrie sponsors and tell me their is nothing majorly wrong with Jamaica. This garbage was obviously being dumped over a period of time and if I did not expose it, it would have continued. This is just one of many places like that. See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKy_AsKiU60


  • concerned citizen

    Kudos to Queens Royalty. It’s great to read about what’s good in Queens once and awhile. My hat’s off to Brian Tate and the wonderful work he’s doing to showcase Queens as a family neighborhood.

  • Brian

    re;J Moretti, I am not defending the Politians in office though out Queens\Jamaica, I don’t blame them for the filth & garbage, it’s the people that throw it in the streets & lots not them! You throw all the responsibilty on them for cleaning it up. People bring down the community. The people you name didn’t get in office without the people voteing them in, remember that! Could the voters have made better choices, I think so, but that is the way our democrocy works. You say you live in Jamaica and you have concern, why didn’t you run for Comrie’s term limited NYC Council Seat, or Boro Pres.? Maybe you would do a better job….. You seem to have all the answers…

    • http://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/ Joe Moretti

      Of course the slob low class residents of Jamaica throw the garbage on the streets/sidewalks and do not take care of their property Brian, I am totally aware of that, BUT our leaders have not done anything in addressing this major quality of life issue, they have not changed laws (which they can do) for stricter enforcement or hell, even enforcing the laws that our on the books (which rarely happens). There is a lot that our elected leaders can do (they get put into office to solve the hard problems). Hell, if I (and some other ordinary citizens) can get a few things done and I do not have the power that our leaders have, the time nor do I get paid either, they certainly could, especially here in Jamaica where we have many elected leaders.

      I never said I have all the answers, but there are certainly many things our leaders can do, but have chosen not too.

      But when you let people do whatever they want, as has been happening in Jamaica for years, then this is what you get. A completely out of control problem that was never addressed from the beginning, now this problem has taken a life of it’s own. If all litter/sanitation laws were completely enforced (all of them), people might think first, but as it goes, Jamaica has become the wild wild west. Hell, enforcing a simple law such as garbage cans have to be completely covered (yes this a a NYC law), would help curb some issues. The money alone that would be made for the city could go back into the community. That fine alone is $100.

      You might not be defending the politicians, but you are not holding them responsible to see that the quality of life in their districts are improved, not get worse. That is what they are hired for and you and I pay their salaries with our taxes and I expect to get results when you are getting a six figure salary, the best health insurance and pension.

      People will murder, but if you did not put laws into effect and see that they are carried out, a lot more people would be murdered.

      It really is not that complex, but the powers to be will make you think it is.

  • Brian

    I know we are concentrating on Jamaica, but there are slobs all though out NYC! So I guess all politians are asleep at the switch, not just the one’s u talk about in Queens, from Chuck Schummer to Charlie Rangle. NYC is 1 dirty mess! It’s not only home owners who contribue to the litter problems though out NYC. Dept of Sanitation have their hands full trying to keep up with the mess that these slobs leave behind. Many Sanitation workers are so burnt out they don’t give a Sh*^(anymore , it’s not their community! You know Jamaica so good, I’m sure u noticed if u walk down Jamaica Ave u can count the corners that have trash cans. Sanitation or Elected Officials falt?
    But Joe, u still haven’t answered my question, why don’t u throw your hat in the ring & show these leaders that u can get more done & earn your salary that us tax payers are being fleased out of paying in this very expensive over taxed town!!! Wouldn’t u like to be in their seats & get 6 fiqures, a pension & a good health plan. All issues they don’t address, I’m sure u will & do a better job.

    • http://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/ Joe Moretti

      Brian, the question “the lack of garbage cans on the corners of Jamaica Avenue: Sanitation or Elected Leaders.” The answer is elected leaders, they have the power to let the Department of Sanitation know that more garbage cans are needed. Also the Jamaica BID spends a huge portion of their budget hiring outside contractors to sweep up and clean-up Jamaica Avenue and empty the garbage cans, and some of these cans are due to the BID. I agree more garbage cans are needed (or more pick-ups), but again these issues do fall on our elected leaders who have the power to make these changes.

      Yes, NYC is a dirty city, the dirtiest in the country, but yes, we are taking about Jamaica and Jamaica is the dirtiest place in Queens, maybe all of NYC. Again, the people are the issue, plus Jamaica has it’s major share of slobs, including the huge amount of shelters that have dumped in Jamaica (which our leaders & community boards could have stopped), more than anywhere else and they cause quality of life issues as well. A community is only as good as its people and leaders and we unfortunately are weak in both departments. One reason we need to entice quality people to come into Jamaica to live, because that is one way for change to happen. But to do that, things need cleaned-up to attract not only these kinds of people, but quality businesses as well, yet still maintain the “Jamaica” feel. Jamaica not only has hard time attracting quality businesses, but it is hard to maintain a quality business in Jamaica, including nice restaurants. Many people just do not like coming to Jamaica because of how it looks cleanliness wise, how people act and some of the nonsense that goes on here.

      I am not a politician, just a concerned community resident, but it takes a village to make a change.

  • Brian

    Joe you must really hate the Officals in Jamaica, is it personal? You blame them for everything. Some points u raise I agree with [it takes a village to make a change, a community is only as good as the people & Elected Pol's.]. The people put these Pol’s in Office election after election, thats the voters falt! But u can’t but everything on their backs either. Maybe they do pressure the City step up services for communitys they represent. Getting the City to take action can be very stressing, u should know that! There are other reasons people won’t shop & do business in Jamaica and u know the reason don’t be nieve!! U have to play fair Joe.

    • http://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/ Joe Moretti

      No, I do not hate the Jamaica officials (as you have stated), I have a major problem with them doing very little to help improve the quality of life in the community, and yes if you are not going to put issues on their backs then who do you and what then is the purpose of having elected officials in you community, you might not have them at all. You still seem to be skirting the responsibility of our elected leaders, leaders in Jamaica who are corrupt, such as former Senator Shirley Huntley, Senator Malcolm Smith, Congressman Gregory Meeks, all who have been under some kind of investigation as well as Councilman Ruben Wills and Assembly Member Vivian Cook. That is a lot of questionable leaders in one area. But it does not matter if the process is stressful to get to the City to take action, that is what you are getting paid for and a nice six figure salary to boot.

      I am far from naive on why people do not shop and do business here in Jamaica, I have said this many times and my blog points that out. Too many low-class people, too many low-class businesses (retail and food), too dirty, many people feel unsafe coming to Jamaica to name a few, so there is no reason what-so-ever for quality people or quality businesses to come here when there are many nice places they can go in Queens and other areas. So yes I play very fair, there is much blame to go around and I point that out all the time, including the “quality” people in Jamaica who “see nothing, hear nothing, do nothing” attitude and community leaders and websites such as Queens Royalty, who do not tell the truth, but are pretty much just PR machines that link a great past history with a dire present situation without looking at reality.

      No, I am not steaming, I knew way before that Comrie was going to be in Katz’s administration, anyone could have seen that the minute Comrie dropped out of the Race of Queens Borough President. Amazing how you can do very little for a community and get a promotion.

  • Brian

    Joe u must be steaming, I just read that Melinda Katz just picked Leroy Comrie to be her Deputy Boro President! WoW, I know you are HOT. If you had ran & got u name known through out house holds, u might of got a position somewhere in the Katz administration.