MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – The July 4 holiday conjures a very unique commemoration to many Black Americans than a day fraught with fireworks, hot dogs and hamburgers and the age-old picnics and barbecues. Millennial Black Americans seem to have embraced the celebratory, independence day holiday with a sense of purposeful appreciation of freedom they annually invest to splurge on getaway vacations and outings.
Thousands have been rallying to the Essence festival in New Orleans for a quarter of a century to liberate themselves in a fun way Hollywood captured in a hit film directed by Malcolm D. Lee titled “Girls Trip.”
In the film, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah are four girl friends pulling out all the stops with a no-holds barred approach to independence from work, spouses, family and tedium by embarking on an adventurous, daring, fun vacation to New Orleans.
Departing from New York on the eve of America’s birthday, yours truly spotted a group of more than 50 women boarding a plane to Jamaica.
Easily identifiable they all wore T-Shirts emblazoned with the words Jamaica Girls Trip 2019.
It was the first of many sightings to boldly distinguished groups bound for paradise and away from the routine barbecues and backyard fetes.
There were those that simply stated “Jamaica 2019.”
Although unintentionally adding to the sold-out statistics reported at hotels, motels and villas throughout the second city of Montego Bay, this Insider traveled south to a celebrity wedding.
Here to witness the union of Selwyn Croft and Barbarella Bishop, the daughter of funkmaster George Clinton, a musician popular known for his assembly of Parliament Funkadelic collective and compositions of “One Nation Under A Groove,” “Atomic Dog,” “Flashlight,” “Nothing But the Dog In Me.” “Paint The White House Black” and a myriad of hits highlighted by his landing of “The Mothership Connection.”
Barbarella married her childhood sweetheart in Paradise.
At least that’s what the preacher said when he delivered the vows.
In front of what seemed like a planeload of guests that arrived from Canada and all over the USA the individuals were bonded as a couple on the beach at Montego Bay’s Iberostar Resorts.
The Caribbean Sea fanned cool breezes throughout the ceremony on the sand.
Etta James’ “At Last” serenaded father and daughter as they walked towards a flowered, white-netted mesh setting.
As weddings go, this Saturday affair was brief.
As the couple signed the registry Stevie Wonder’s “For So Long” played.
When they completed the official ritual, Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” turned up the temperature to find guests dancing on the beach.
The night before an all-blue party kicked off revelry that lasted all week and extended into local venues and as far away as Negril in another parish.
Needless to say, Clinton — who is in the midst of a farewell tour that recently sold-out Central Park Summerstage Concert Series — seemed to be in high gear.
From a dance with his daughter and beyond he appeared a proud papa.
The following afternoon, another destination wedding invited tourists, many who had never been to the Caribbean but seemed tickled pink to be in the land of reggae. Visitors explained that for years the star-spangled celebration had lost its lustre.
Particularly with reports of rampant, nationwide police shootings and acquittals received after unjustified murders, Blacks seem to be taking more than a knee in protests but are boosting the economies of Black nations by investing in their industries.
Jamaicans are readying for a banner celebration of their 57th anniversary of independence. Along with an annual gala, testimonials, concerts and a plethora of activities planned, on Aug. 4, the most solemn of all celebrations will be the church service of thanksgiving slated for Harlem’s Bethany Baptist Church, 460 Marcus Garvey Blvd.
“As an independent island since Aug. 6, 1962, despite a few setbacks, Jamaica has been blessed with remarkable achievements,” Lisa Bryan Smart, acting consul general said.
“As a Christian society, we are therefore humbled to celebrate and pray to our God for guidance and more blessings for another year.”
The service will be streamed live on social media platforms including Facebook and YouTube.
“We are going all out in the social and traditional media to ensure we reach a vast audience,” Hyacinth Bloomfield, who chairs the Jamaican Independent Church Service Committee said.
She added that officiant for the 2019 annual will be Bishop Cecil G. Riley, senior pastor of the Freedom Hall Church.
The guest preacher will be Rev. Patrick G. Perrin, pastor of the St. John United Methodist church.
The service will begin at 4 pm.
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