WASHINGTON, USA — Close to three hundred people, including Caribbean nationals, representatives of the diplomatic corps, the private sector and government representatives, celebrated Caribbean Heritage at the Organization of American States (OAS) with Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin on Thursday evening.
The Caribbean Heritage event is in keeping with a proclamation by the president of the United States and the US Congress, recognizing the contribution of Caribbean people to the United States.
Addressing the event that took place in the Hall of the Americas, feature speaker Dr Una Clarke recounted her story and struggles as an immigrant who made history becoming the first Caribbean woman to be elected to the New York City Council.
“Caribbean people haven’t asked for handouts, we have asked for opportunity. When opportunity is provided, we turn around and create more opportunity for others. We understand struggle, and we earn respect,” said Clarke.
During the event Insulza was presented with a surprise Caribbean Heritage honour, for his commitment to the region and its people.
“Caribbean countries have added significant value to this Organization,” said Insulza adding, “my commitment and support for the Caribbean and its people remains strong.”
Among the feature presentations of the evening was the launch of the latest project by Jamaican sociologist, cultural heritage specialist and author Margaret Bernal, a book titled “Caribbean Reliquaries” a recollection of Caribbean heritage, which has received widespread acclaim in the Caribbean Diaspora.
Caribbean folk performances, exhibits from Caribbean member states, presentations from the Columbus Memorial Library, a collection of Caribbean art including a tapestry detailing Caribbean Heritage from artist Lorna Ramlochansingh, were also part of the evening, while two international Caribbean staff, Serge Bellegarde and Beverly Wharton-Lake were recognized for their commitment to the OAS for 41 and 30 years of employment respectively.
According to Ramdin, who worked with Caribbean interests to organize and host the evening in Washington, DC, “The Caribbean is an undeniable presence at the OAS, and tonight we celebrate the achievements of Caribbean people in our institution, in this country, and in the Hemisphere as a whole.”