US Jamaican Embassy Kicks off 48th Independence Celebration

Ambassador Marks receiving Proclamation from Major Fenty

Sunday, August 1 was declared ‘Jamaica Day’ in the United States capital, by the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Adrian Fenty.

Mayor Fenty read the proclamation at a Thanksgiving Service to commemorate Jamaica’s 176th year of emancipation as well the country’s 48th year of Independence, at Dumbarton Chapel, Howard University, in Washington, D.C., on August1.

In proclaiming Jamaica Day , Mayor Fenty said that Washington, D.C., is proud to be the home to thousands of people of Jamaican descent, and the district’s residents are very appreciative that the Embassy of Jamaica contributes to the educational and cultural lives of its residents.

He said it was a signal honour for him to issue the proclamation, as both his wife’s parents and his father are Jamaicans.

The proclamation read in part: “Jamaica and people of Jamaican descent throughout the world are celebrating the 48th year of Independence. The Jamaican national motto, ‘Out of Many One People’, reflects the fact that people of different races and creeds have lived side by side for centuries to forge a unique Jamaican identity.

“Therefore, I, Mayor of the District of Columbia, do hereby proclaim August 1to be Jamaica Day in the District of Columbia and call upon all residents of this city to join me in saluting the nation of Jamaica.”

In thanking Mayor Fenty for the proclamation, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks said, “Jamaicans are very honored by your proclamation. It speaks well to the recognition Jamaicans residing in your city for themselves and their country of birth,” she said.

In his Emancipation message, read by Ambassador Marks Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding said, “While the battle to end slavery was won, the roots from which it sprung remain embedded in the psyche of many people throughout the world. It is manifested in the form of prejudice and discrimination. It expresses itself in ethnic conflicts that, even today, remain unresolved. It remains a flashpoint that poses a recurring threat to international peace and security.”

The Prime Minister said that although the battle may have been won the struggle against bigotry, prejudice, discrimination and the instinct toward domination of some over others must continue to be waged. We in Jamaica must never allow ourselves to become complacent. Our motto “Out of Many, One People” was carefully and deliberately crafted because our founding fathers recognized the diverse and historically conflicting streams from which we spring. It reflects the reality of our history but it also defines the hope for our future.

Mr. Golding noted that as we celebrate Emancipation Day and the accomplishments of the past, we must remind ourselves that the emancipation struggle must continue if we are to live out the true meaning of our motto that, out of many, we are, indeed, one people.

In delivering the sermon, Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, the Rt. Rev. Robert M. Thompson said the celebration of emancipation and independence are celebrations that must inspire all of us to break the silence of shame and to face head on the challenges of creating a new paradigm for our nation’s future.

This new paradigm must involve the transformation of structures, the infusion of new values within the present cultures and the healing and reconciliation of broken relationships.

“Most Jamaicans did not believe that an assault on the monster of organized crime was possible. In fact, many of us had resigned ourselves to the thought that gang violence and extortion were evils we simply had to live with. However, when a coalition of voices from the church, private sector, and media speak with a common interest for the national goo, and when a administrative resolve to at firmly against criminality is backed by action from the security forces, a shift in the balance of power occurs”, said Rev. Thomas.

He said “this shift is what we have been witnessing in Jamaica during the last two months with unprecedented results. A dismantling of a criminal network that has kept our nation hostage for decades”

If the nexus between criminal activity and institutional sanctions is to loose its devastating grasp on the society, ordinary citizens, which includes Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora will have to hold our leaders and each other to a higher standard of accountability than before.

The service was attended by members of congress, the US Senate, the US State Department, the diplomatic Corps, the Caribbean Caucus of Ambassadors as well as a wide cross-section of Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica from Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington DC.

This year’s collection from the service will benefit the Jamaica Christian Boys Home in Kingston; the St Elizabeth Infirmary and the Jamaica Aid Support for Life.

I am indebted to Mr Derrick Scott of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) for the content of this post.

Stay tuned for pictures and announcement of other events celebrating our nation’s formation.