BY NATHAN DUKE
The Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society has provided philanthropic work—from providing food to the homeless to assisting those affected by tropical storms—to Caribbean Americans in the five boroughs for more than 80 years.
Founded on Aug. 22, 1934, by a group of Antiguans in New York City under the leadership of Bishop James P. Roberts, the society provides assistance to Antiguans, Barbudans and neighboring communities in New York City and lends a hand to institutions on its home islands.
In the early 1960s, the group purchased a brownstone at 12 West 122nd St. in Harlem—and the site remains the society’s headquarters to this day.
“The Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society remains focused in helping the less fortunate through various programs, such as Adopt a Day Care, feeding the homeless, distributing school supplies and providing medical equipment to the Fiennes Institute in Antigua and Barbuda and computer tablets to the children of the Holy Trinity School in Barbuda after Hurricane Irma devastated the island,” said Mona V. Wyre Manigo, the president of the society.
The Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society’s records—which were kept between 1934 and 1984—contain correspondence, membership application forms, meeting minutes and financial documents that offer views into the running of the society, members’ lives and assistance efforts by the society, such as “sick aid” and help with burial costs.
The society’s records also contain the 1938 and 1949 recommendations sent to the Royal West India Commission and Secretary of State for the Colonies that divulged immigrants’ political sensibilities, diasporic sympathies and nascent pan-Caribbean identification. There are two letters from V.C. Bird—the first prime minister of sovereign Antigua—that commend the society for its work assisting residents of the islands. The records also document interactions between the society and other Caribbean associations in New York, such as those founded by immigrants from Anguilla, Bahamas, Dominica, Montserrat and St. Vincent.
Wyre Manigo said that the society was organized exclusively for charitable, educational, religious and scientific purposes.
“We will continue to do our best to follow the motto of our founders of faith, hope, charity and loyalty,” she said. “To them we owe the highest gratitude for all they have done.”
For more information on the Antigua and Barbuda Progressive Society, visit the group’s website at www.abpsociety.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.