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BIO

CARLOS LEZAMA

Carlos Lezama was born on Sept 3, 1923 and grew up on the island of Trinidad, where he learned to play the melodious tenor steel-pan -- first fashioned by hammering dents into the lids of oil drums left by ships that had refueled in Trinidad. He met his childhood sweetheart, Hilary Yolanda Charles at the age of twelve.  On March 15, 1950 Carlos and Hilary were married.  They were blessed with two children, Kenwyn and Yolanda.  Carlos and Hilary departed for the United States during the 1950’s, later to be joined by the children where he also dedicated many years as a member of the AMORC Rosicrucian Order. In 1967 Carlos became employed with the New York City Transit Authority as a machinist until he retired in 1988.   During this time He also began to work with a small committee responsible for the West Indian Carnival Parade in Harlem led by Rufus Gorin.  The gregarious Lezama was elected President of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) in 1967 when the Carnival was merely a small gathering of a few hundred persons.  In 1969 Carnival came to Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn.  His vision for Carnival became a reality in Brooklyn.  Brooklyn's Carnival growth and evolution from its tiny humble beginning to the massive crowds today  -totaling more than 2 million spectators from around the world resulted from his perseverance,  love for Caribbean  people and the arts. The charismatic leader served WIADCA as President for 34 years before retiring in 2001.  During his 34 year tenure Carlos’ work has had a profoundly positive impact in the borough of Brooklyn and the Caribbean community.  He strengthened the Caribbean voice in Brooklyn and throughout the country.   His work touched the lives of the masses who gained from the social, cultural, educational and economic benefits of Carnival in New York City.  Carlos provided a warm smile, generous spirit and most important his life for his belief in the human spirit.  His legacy lives on in his family, the work of the West Indian-American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) & the Carlos Lezama Archives & Caribbean Cultural Center (CLACC-C) established in his name and housed in his former home at 1028 St. John’s Place in Brooklyn.