A total of 126 Jamaicans, including Jamaicans living in countries abroad, will be recognized for their exceptional contributions to Jamaica’s development and presented with the country’s highest honors on National Heroes Day in October 2023. The recipients include leaders in the fields of education, music, medicine, philanthropy, and politics, among others.
“Father of Hip-Hop” DJ Kool Herc
Clive Campbell, better known as DJ Kool Herc, will be awarded by Jamaica with the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD). He will be honored for his contributions to the global recognition of Jamaica’s reggae and dancehall music genres and for his pioneering of hip-hop music. He is credited with the creation of hip-hop music in the Bronx, New York, in 1973, at a party he hosted with his sister Cindy. According to the origin story, the Jamaican American deejay extended a cut-and-mix of the instrumental beat in James Brown’s “Sex Machine” album using two turntables in a breaking/scratching technique that led to the creation of hip-hop. Campbell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the “Musical Influence Award” category in May 2023.
Howard University Professor Dr. Bertram Melbourne
Dr. Melbourne will receive Jamaica’s Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD). A professor of Biblical language and literature at Howard University’s School of Divinity, he has been recognized for his contributions to education, mentorship, and service to the community and the Jamaican Embassy in Washington DC. He was interim dean at the School of Divinity from 2004 to 2007 and has held positions at Columbia Union College, Griggs University, Andrews University Theological Seminary, and West Indies College, now known as Northern Caribbean University.
Head of Medical Missions Dr. Robert Clarke
Dr. Clarke, the head of the Help Jamaica Medical Mission and the Association of Jamaican Physicians Abroad, will become a member of the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer (OD). He is recognized for his contributions to medicine and philanthropy, leading numerous medical missions to Jamaica to provide health care to underserved populations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Clarke helped Jamaicans stranded in the United States and who ran out of needed medications at significantly reduced costs. He worked with Jamaican Consul General Alsion Wilson at the Jamaican Consulate in New York to help Jamaicans during the pandemic as well. He plans to head a medical mission to Jamaica in 2023 from September 6 to 14.
Aviation Leader Arleen Richards-Barr
The Director of International Business at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Arleen Richards-Barr, will receive the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer for her contributions to the field of local and international aviation. Richards-Barr was previously honored for heading the implementation of the Sister Airport Cooperation Agreement between the Atlanta international airport and airports in Jamaica.
New York Radio Host Clement “Ras Clem” Hume
Clement ‘Ras Clem’ Hume, the host of Groovin Radio 93.5FM in New York and the co-producer of the reggae and R&B festival, “Groovin In The Park,” will receive Jamaica’s Badge of Honor for his service to the Jamaican Diaspora community in the United States. The Jamaican-born radio host has previously been honored by the Jamaica Diaspora Northeast USA for his work with the Diaspora. In recognizing Hume for “media excellence and partnership,” the chair of the Jamaica Diaspora Northeast USA Think Tank, Dr. Karen Dunkley, expressed her pride in recognizing how his support was instrumental to the success of efforts by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and her constituents.