Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller made her first visit to New York since her landslide, historic election four months ago and addressed nationals on a myriad of issues.
Her inaugural address inside the Lenox Road Baptist Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn culled supporters and rival party members for a united banner-waving force that firmly displayed national pride and heritage.
Elected Dec. 29, 2011, the head of government was met by persons loyal to her People’s National Party as well as members of the rival Jamaica Labor Party who admittedly expressed their affection and pride for the politician.
Here to accept the honor of being among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people, Simpson-Miller attended the Manhattan gala on Tuesday, joining Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other prominent colleagues.
She met with members of the diaspora on Wednesday.
Accompanied by three members of Jamaica’s parliament – Sandrea Falconer, minister of information, Wykeham McNeil, minister of tourism and Phillip Paulwell, minister of energy – she exuded leadership and pride in her nation.
“I am proud to be Jamaican…proud to be prime minister at this time… and on a mission with a vision…,” she said to cheers of approval.
There was an orange hue that filtered throughout the predominantly black, green and gold, flag-waving, Brooklyn assembly.
The color identifies her political party and last Wednesday was evident from orange-colored hair to whole outfits displaying affiliation to the PNP.
Allegedly, supporters traveled from Boston, Connecticut and all the boroughs to see and hear the pioneering politician.
In her message to a 600-capacity seat crowd that spilled over into a recreational area, she expressed gratitude to the church’s congregation, nationals and praised “Jamaicans making a valiant contribution” to the diaspora.
“When we want to be good we are the best at what we do,” she said.
In calling for unity she said: “if we unite nothing can stop us.”
Her calculated, eloquent and paced presentation emphasized a one Jamaica concept she repeated.
She amplified a message that “no matter who you voted for,” this government is ready to ready to bring change and progress.
She tackled a number of issues ranging from investments, tourism, partnership agreements, education, agriculture and a myriad of diaspora-related topics.
“Join with us to work as one to make Jamaica the family for the future of this generation and the next.”
She mentioned the rise of the profile of Rastafarians in Jamaica.
She explained that now their status has been elevated and intimated that a believer could be steps away from being prime minister.
Her inference was her own path from being a councilor to being elected leader.
Currently, her orange-tinged party successfully secured the election of Damian Crawford an alleged Rastafarian and councilor.
She spoke about the summer Olympics in London, England which in athletic circles is already buzzing with hopes for a Jamaican coup of gold medal winners.
Tasked with the portfolio of minister of sports she explained the current mood on the island.
“I saw the faces of athletes and there is determination there…excitement is building at home for the Olympics.”
Simpson-Miller fielded questions from the audience and lingered long shaking hands with enthusiastic supporters.
She acknowledged the presence of former parliamentarian Verna Parchment, a former opposition member.
While a majority of guests seemed happy to see the Caribbean head of state, there were those who felt shut-out of the ceremony when the doors closed hours before her arrival.
Some guests waited up to two hours before being allowed into a spillover space where a small closed-circuit screen was set up.
Citing preferential access given to church members and a VIP guest list, some guests left the venue prematurely.
“I didn’t come to see her on TV, I see her on TV all the time,” Charley Simpson said as he exited the location.
He was not alone, many angry supporters joined him.
They missed hearing questions about disengagement from CARICOM; reinstating Air Jamaica, the former national airline carrier and the insurrection in Tivoli Gardens.
Her response is that regional integral will prevail; the airline arrangement is irreversible and was agreed and signed by a former government. She stated that a report on the inquest into the Tivoli Gardens uprising will be forthcoming.
“I think she did well,” Gerald Spence said. “I called four people in Jamaica to tell them how well she did.”
“I am very proud of my leader,” Vincent Miller added.
Special advisors Delano Franklyn, Dr. Carlton Davis and Dr. Vin Lawrence, chairman of Clarendon Alumina Partners also comprised the visiting diplomatic team.
Simpson-Miller is also scheduled to attend the annual Penn Relays athletic competitions in Philadelphia.
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