J. Erlene Williams-King, a former aide to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ New York Consul General, was honored on Nov. 19 by the New York-based Garifuna Coalition U.S.A, Inc. at the group’s Yellow, White and Black 2011 Gala at the Eastwood Manor, Bronx.
Williams-King, the youngest daughter of the late St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ former acting Governor General Henry Williams, was among five honorees at the event, which also marked the coalition’s Garifuna Settlement Day.
The other honorees were: New York State Sen. the Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.; New York State Assemb. Eric Stevenson; Garifuna community organizer Carlos Gotay; and choreographer Mariano Martinez.
The Garifuna Coalition said Williams-King was recognized for her “support of the Renaissance of the Garifuna Heritage and Culture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, ‘Yurumein,’ the ancestral homeland of the Garifuna people.”
“Ms. Williams-King has a penchant for all things cultural, and she is always willing to learn about the many cultural practices of different countries and peoples,” it said.
Williams-King – who retired from the New York Consulate General, at the end of August, after 12 years – said she was “elated” to be honored by the Garifuna Coalition because “I have such great respect for its members and what they stand for.
“I admire their resolve to be recognized and be heard,” she told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview.
“They are a proud people with a rich history and a sense of purpose. Their achievements, over the years, have made them very prominent in the City of New York and should inspire others to follow their ideals and visions, so that they, too, can attain their goals and objectives, and be recognized,” added Williams-King.
“To be held in such high esteem by such an august body is simply awesome,” she continued.
The Garifuna Coalition said that although Williams-King was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, she can be “classified as a Caribbean woman, having lived in Carriacou, Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nevis and her homeland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Ms. Williams-King, a social worker by profession, has always been involved in community service and is very passionate about the welfare of her fellow brothers and sisters,” it said. “She has been a high school teacher, a guidance counselor and mentor to many.
“Her record of humanitarian achievements is best highlighted by her involvement in many organizations and committees,” it added, stating that Williams-King, who was a founding member of Hearts and Hands for Nevis, Inc., worked “assiduously” to ensure that the goals and objectives of the organization were maintained.
The Garifuna Coalition said Williams-King first became aware of the Garifunas when she migrated to the United States, and has since embraced their culture.