TONY BEST: In honour of unsung heroes
IT DOESN’T REQUIRE ROCKET SCIENCE to define an unsung hero and to give him or her their due.
After all, the list of people who have gone unrecognised after making significant contributions to a country or community is usually so exhaustive that you can identify them until the “cows come home” and you still wouldn’t do justice to everyone who qualified.
Professor Pedro Welch, deputy principal of the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies and a historian, said their achievements came despite “the odds they were up against when they left Barbados for an unfamiliar land”, joining the Bajan diaspora in North America, England, the Caribbean and elsewhere.
“And those odds include racism, economic deprivation, a certain amount of de-culturation and an anti-developmental philosophy coming from the planter class . . .” he told the SUNDAY SUN.
Welch had just delivered an informative lecture which drew loud praise. It was followed by dinner, musical entertainment, tributes and a presentation of awards to honorees timed to coincide with the observance of National Heroes Day.
Dr Donna Hunte Cox, Barbados’ new Consul-General in New York, who was the driving force behind the project, told the specially invited guests at Giando on the Water in Brooklyn, that the Barbadians being honoured were serving their country well in their various spheres of life.
The honorees who received the Pride of Barbados Award in different categories were:
• Charles Archer, a native New Yorker of Barbadian descent who is an attorney, author and a “champion of the developmentally and intellectually disabled”;
• Marcus Belgrave, an outstanding jazz musician and recording artiste who was born in Pennsylvania of Bajan descent;
• Carlton Murrell, a renowned artist who came to New York from Barbados decades ago;
• Rev. Michael Waldrond, senior pastor of the large Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, who was born on Long Island of Barbadian parents and who is one of Harlem’s most influential religious and community leaders;
• Markley Wilson, a former Barbados Tourism Authority and Caribbean Tourism Organisation top representative in the US but who for years has been the director of international marketing for New York State’s Division of Tourism;
• Harold Jones, a retired engineer who spearheaded an extensive rehabilitation and recovery effort in Brooklyn in the wake of widespread damage caused by superstorm Sandy in 2013; and
• Dr Errol Byer Sr, an obstetrician and gynaecologist in Brooklyn for more than 30 years.
Chirlane McCray, wife of New York City’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, was the first recipient of the Shirley Chisholm Award of excellence, a newly instituted honour that’s named for the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the US Congress who later went on to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. In McCray’s absence the award was received by Bill Howard, for decades Congresswoman Chisholm’s top aide.
“These are truly outstanding unsung heroes who have earned the recognition given to them,” said Welch.
Tony Best is the Nation’s North American correspondent.