American Foundation to present UWI’s Shirley Chisholm Award

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.) is seen in 1968.
Associated Press

One month after the exit of the 44th and first Black president of the USA from the White House, the first Black woman who sought the esteemed position 45 years ago will be acknowledged and lauded when the American Foundation for the University of the West Indies (AFUWI) presents the inaugural Shirley Chisholm Award.

The distinguished honour and presentation will be made to an individual during the 20th annual gala fundraiser slated for the Pierre Hotel on Feb. 23.

Although the name of the deserved individual was not revealed to Caribbean Life, organizers said the person exemplifies — “through their lifetime of work in social justice, fighting for educational opportunities and civic work reflect the essence of esteemed Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.”

Revered from the halls of congress to the streets of Brooklyn where she was born, Shirley Anita St. Hill remains an iconic politician best known for becoming the first Black congresswoman to represent New York.

The pioneering Democrat became the first Black female elected to the US Congress in 1968.

Her legacy swelled serving in the House of Representatives for seven terms.

However, her reputation heightened when she announced that she would run for the 1972 Democratic nomination for the presidency.

Setting a precedence still not achieved after the 2016 presidential elections, Chisholm’s campaign slogan “Un-bought and Un-bossed” proved a daring challenge to the electorate and a daunting task many party colleagues could not embrace 45 years ago.

Advocating for better treatment of Haitian refugees, she amplified the cause of spending increases for education, health care and other social services as well as implored reductions in military spending.

She fiercely opposed US involvement in the Vietnam War and the expansion of weapon developments.

Chisholm’s daring decision to run was stalled when the political party rejected her ambitious bid and for being ahead of her gender and race in leading a charge to presiding over the nation.

During her tenure in Congress, Chisholm also made her imprint in the area of national security and foreign policy.

She toiled to revoke the Internal Security Act of 1950 — which tightened alien exclusion and deportation laws and allowed for the detention of dangerous, disloyal, or subversive persons in times of war or “internal security emergency.”

The Act made picketing a federal courthouse a felony. The Act required communist organizations to register with the attorney general and established the Subversives activities Control Board to investigate persons suspected of engaging in subversive activities or otherwise promoting the establishment of a “totalitarian dictatorship,” either fascist or communist

After retiring in 1986, the no-nonsense politician — born to a Guyanese father and a Barbadian mother — was named by President Bill Clinton in 1993 to serve as ambassador to Jamaica.

She declined the nomination citing declining health.

The tireless pioneer died Jan. 1, 2005.

However, in 2015, President Barack Obama acknowledged the role Chisholm played in paving the path to his historic, unprecedented victory by posthumously awarding her the Presidential Medal of Honor.

The inscription on her epitaph at the Oakwood Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo where she is laid reads: “Un-bought and Un-bossed.”

According to a spokesperson for AFUWI, “the awards hail notable individuals from the US and from the Caribbean, all of whom represent high levels of achievement within their respective fields.”

This year, Doug E Fresh, a Barbadian-American rapper, record producer and entertainer acclaimed as “The Human Beat-box” will receive the ‘Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley Award’ for his contribution to society and to “the advancement of arts and culture, transcending race, color, creed and geographies; to unite people worldwide in a spirit that embodies the essence of the music and lyrics” of the reggae icon.

Previous recipients of the award include: soca singer Machel Montano, reggae musician Jimmy Cliff, actor and human rights activist Danny Glover, dancer / choreographer Judith Jamison, actor / director Spike Lee, and opera singer Jessye Norman.

British born singer, songwriter, record producer and actress, Estelle will receive the Afuwi Caribbean Luminary Award.

This award is given to individuals of Caribbean heritage who, “through their efforts and contribution to community have been able to shine a global spotlight on issues germane to the Caribbean.”

Renowned for delivering an eclectic mix of musical genres Estelle is of Senegalese and Grenadian descent. She has released several critically acclaimed records and received a Grammy Award.

Paul Salmon, an international entrepreneur and philanthropist who has promoted Caribbean culture and cuisines by opening restaurants in Dubai, Jamaica and here in New York will also be distinguished at the 2017 Legacy Awards gala.

Salmon owns Rockhouse Hotel in Jamaica and culls celebrity crowds to his Miss Lily’s Restaurant in Greenwich Village.

Now in its 20th year of hosting the black-tie event, AFUWI boasts this annual as its signature event for fundraising with proceeds earmarked to provide an average of 50 scholarships annually for students across The UWI’s four campuses.

Established in 1956 to develop an endowment fund in the USA, throughout the past decades, AFUWI has provided scholarships and grants and funded many special projects to foster the development of the Caribbean institution.

AFUWI patrons include actor and songwriter Harry Belafonte, Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, and Former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The original patrons included former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Royal Highness, Princess Alice.

For more information, check www.afuwi.org.

DEANS TAKE CHARGE AS JAMAICA’S CONSUL GENERAL TO NEW YORK

The long awaited arrival of Jamaica’s new consul general is over.

Trudy Deans is the new liason to government nationals from the island can rely on to respond to concerns related to the island.

Recently, she met with Gail L. Moaney, a founding managing partner of Finn Partners, the public relations agency of record for the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) who briefed her on some of the many initiatives being undertaken by the JTB to strengthen relations with the Diaspora.

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