By Sadef Ali Kully
A group of 75 people became naturalized American citizens Sept. 17, the 228th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, at King Manor Museum in Rufus King Park.
The new citizens were from 28 countries stretching from the West Indies to Southeast Asia. Along with families and friends, they heard the “Star Spangled Banner” sung and watched a color guard present the American flag.
The Oath of Allegiance was administered by Federal Judge Eric Vitaliano for the Eastern District of New York.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz gave the keynote address and Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) made remarks to welcome the new citizens in the museum at 150th St. and Jamaica Ave.
“The new citizens came into the house and we have a large statue of Rufus King. They had a chance to add their signatures to the copy of the original Constitution which we have on site,” said Kathy Forrestal, director of Interpretation, Education and Visitor Services for King Manor.
Forrestal pointed out that many of the citizenship candidates live in downtown Jamaica and the citizenship day represents a long and successful relationship with the neighborhood.
Jamaica is largely a community of immigrants who hail from the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
King Manor was the home of Rufus King, a signer of the Constitution, who lived in Jamaica from 1805 until his death in 1827.
King’s political career was just beginning when he signed the Constitution in 1787. He became one of the first two U.S. Senators for New York under the new Constitution, eventually serving four terms.
He also served as ambassador to Great Britain from 1796 until 1803 and he was an outspoken opponent of slavery throughout his long political career. After King’s death, his eldest son John King lived at King Manor and served as a congressman and New York governor, carrying on his father’s anti-slavery tradition.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull