Many Jamaicans in the Diaspora were recognized for their achievements in 2021: a Jamaican soldier is the first Black individual to lead the Queen’s Coldstream Guards in the United Kingdom, a regiment of 500 tasked with protecting the Queen and playing a role in state visits at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle; the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies was honored with the Martin Luther King Award for 2021, in recognition of his global advocacy, academic scholarship, and intellectual leadership supporting social justice, equity, and economic development; a Jamaican American lawyer was appointed the first Black woman to lead the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); a Jamaican-born woman was appointed the new Sheriff of Nottingham in England; a Jamaican was confirmed as the new head of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice; a Jamaican-born nurse in New York City, who was the first person in the US to get a COVID-19 vaccination, was the Grand Marshall of the city’s “Parade of Heroes,” an event in June 2021 held to honor essential workers and others who contributed to fighting the pandemic and was later honored by President Joe Biden at a naturalization ceremony at the White House; a street in New Jersey was renamed to honor the outstanding contributions of Jamaicans to the city of Paterson; and Moreland, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, will be renamed after the city council learned it was named after an 18th-century Jamaican slave plantation. In other Diaspora news, Jamaican leaders in the Diaspora expressed their shock and alarm about the violent storming of the United States Capitol in Washington DC by insurrectionist supporters of Donald Trump who tried to stop the certification of Joe Biden as the next President of the US. And the family of Marcus Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero, continues its efforts to have the US President issue a posthumous pardon for Garvey’s conviction on charges of mail fraud in 1923.
JAMAICAN SOLDIER FIRST BLACK TO HEAD QUEEN’S GUARDS IN UK
Kirtland Gill, 40, who traveled from Jamaica to visit his family in England, joined the British Army 20 years ago. Now he will become the first black soldier to lead the elite Queen’s Coldstream Guards. As a Regimental Sergeant Major, Gill will be the leader of the guards whose duty is to protect Queen Elizabeth II. The regiment, which comprises 500 members, has a role in state visits at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle and in the orchestration of parades. Gill was raised in Hampton Court, St. Thomas, the son of a fisherman and a dressmaker. After he joined the army, he continually moved up in the ranks, serving in Iraq in 2005 and as a section commander in Afghanistan in 2007. He is currently a Warrant Officer Class 2. He said he was honored to have the chance to be the next Regimental Sergeant Major, as he had come from a poor family that was unable to send him to the best schools. Gill lives in Windsor with his wife and his four-year-old daughter.
DIASPORA LEADERS IN UNITED STATES SHOCKED AT STORMING OF CAPITOL IN D.C.
Several Jamaican leaders in the Diaspora expressed shock and alarm at watching the violent storming of the United States Capitol building in Washington DC by insurrectionist supporters of Donald Trump who tried to stop the certification of Joe Biden as the next President of the US. Dr. Rupert Francis, head of the Diaspora Crime and Prevention Task Force, called for individuals participating in the riots to be arrested and held accountable. He added that what happened at the Capitol rendered the US unable to talk to the world about democracy. New York State Senator Leroy Comie, who is from Jamaica, said what happened was the responsibility of Trump as he refused to accept his loss to Biden in the presidential election. Jamaican Michael King, a New York Police Inspector in charge of the NYPD Special Victims Crime Unit, called the situation “un-American,” “terrible” and “discouraging.” Congresswoman Yvette Clarke called it an attempted coup and an attack by “an insurgent group of domestic terrorists.” She added that Trump encouraged the “abhorrent behavior” and called for his immediate resignation.
SIR HILARY BECKLES TO RECEIVE 2021 MARTIN LUTHER KING AWARD
Sir Hilary Beckles, the vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies has received the prestigious Martin Luther King Award for 2021. His award was announced by the Reverend Al Sharpton, the president and founder of the US National Action Network (NAN), and will be presented on Martin Luther King Day, January 18, 2021, at an annual breakfast event in Washington DC. This will be the 30th anniversary of the awards, which celebrate the work of Dr. King and honor individuals supporting social justice, institutional equity, and economic development in marginalized and oppressed populations. Sir Hilary’s award recognizes his international advocacy, academic scholarship, and intellectual leadership performed in support of social justice, equity, and economic development. Along with Sir Hilary, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 in the US, will receive the Lifetime Community Service Award.
JAMAICAN AMERICAN LAWYER TO BE THE FIRST BLACK WOMAN TO HEAD THE ACLU
Deborah Archer, a Jamaican American lawyer and law professor, has been named as the first Black woman to lead the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She will replace Susan Herman, who left the post after 12 years. Archer is an experienced civil rights lawyer, scholar, and teacher who began her career as the Marvin M. Karpatkin Legal Fellow at the ACLU. Archer has been an ACLU board member since 2009, as well as general counsel and member of its executive committee since 2017. Archer’s parents are Jamaican immigrants. She attended Smith College and Yale Law School prior to joining the ACLU. She noted that the organization has been part of every significant civil liberties battle since its inception and that it is committed to continuing that legacy as it enters its second century of operation. Archer added that she is excited to get to work in her new role.
JAMAICAN-BORN WOMAN NAMED SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM IN UK
Jamaican-born Merlita Bryan has been appointed as the new sheriff of Nottingham in England, the place where the legend of Robin Hood originated. Bryan moved to Nottingham when she was 11 years old. She has served as a city councilor since 2007. She also served as sheriff in the 124-year-old city in 2012-2013 and as its Lord Mayor in 2013-2014. Bryan currently is a member of the health scrutiny committee and has been a member of the overview and scrutiny committee. In the past year, she has worked as an executive assistant for schools and Nottingham customer care in Nottingham. According to council leader David Mellen, Bryan brings “a wealth of experience,” enthusiasm, and energy to her new position as sheriff.
JAMAICAN KRISTEN CLARKE CONFIRMED AS HEAD OF U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION
Second-generation Jamaican Kristen Clarke was confirmed by the United States Senate and will now serve as the head of the civil rights division of the US Department of Justice. With her confirmation, which was opposed by nearly all Republicans in the US Senate, Clarke is the first woman of color to lead the department. The vote for her confirmation was 51 to 48, with only Republican Susan Collins of Maine voting with the majority. In her new role, Clarke will be in charge of over 50 attorneys and will face serious issues, including voting rights and police shootings of Black people. Clarke has many years of experience as a civil rights attorney, and according to Alex Padilla, Democratic Senator, she has been a strong ally to the most vulnerable populations in the US throughout her career and is dedicated to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.
JAMAICAN-BORN NURSE LEADS PARADE HONORING ESSENTIAL WORKERS IN NEW YORK CITY
Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse who was born in Jamaica and was the first individual in the United States to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, was named the Grand Marshall of the New York City Parade of Heroes. She headed the parade on June 7, 2021, that was held in honor of essential and other work-ers who made major contributions toward fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Lindsay was also hon-ored by United States President Joe Biden on July 4, 2021, at a naturalization ceremony held at the White House to recognize “outstanding Americans by choice.” At the ceremony, Lindsay called the US “a country of possibilities and opportunities.” The Parade of Heroes was the first ticker-tape event held in the city in almost two years.
NEW JERSEY CITY RENAMES STREET TO HONOR CONTRIBUTIONS OF JAMAICANS
On September 4, 2021, Jamaicans and friends of the island gathered to celebrate the renaming of a portion of one of Paterson, New Jersey’s major streets in recognition of the exceptional contributions Jamaicans have made to the city. Two blocks of Vreeland Avenue were renamed “Jamaica Way.” Ac-cording to Paterson mayor Andre Sayegh, the renaming was a “proud moment for our multicultural municipality.” The street is located in an area that is home to many Jamaicans and Jamaican business-es. Sayegh added that the city is finally paying tribute to a nation that has made major contributions to Paterson. Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange marked the occasion with a message affirming that the government of Jamaica had “taken note of all that you continue to do to ensure that Jamaica stands at the center of commerce, culture, and social engagement” in the city. She added that renaming the street is an indication of the wide sphere of influence created by the Jamaican Diaspora.
AUSTRALIAN SUBURB TO BE RENAMED AFTER ITS LINK TO SLAVERY DISCOVERED
The City of Moreland, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, plans to change its name after the city’s council learned that it had been named after a Jamaican slave plantation that was in operation in the 18th century. Mark Riley, the city’s mayor, said the council was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the discovery. According to traditional owners and community representatives, the City of Moreland’s name came from land acquired by Farquhar McCrae in 1839. McCrae named this land “Moreland” after a slave plantation operated by his father and grandfather from 1770 to 1796, which produced sugar and rum and participated in the slave trade and had between 500 and 700 enslaved people there in any single year. Mayor Riley said the “painful, uncomfortable, and very wrong” history of the naming must be addressed, adding that Moreland is firmly against racism and is a proudly diverse community. The council plans to find a new name in consultation with the Wurundjeri people and the Moreland com-munity, but that the state government has the ultimate authority to make a change.
FAMILY OF MARCUS GARVEY ASKS U.S. PRESIDENT FOR HIS POSTHUMOUS PARDON
The family of Marcus Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero, has called on United States President Joe Biden to issue a posthumous pardon for Garvey’s conviction on charges of mail fraud in 1923. Garvey was the founder and leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The charges stemmed from a mailing of ads for his Black Star Line shipping firm that depicted a ship that the company was in the process of acquiring but had not yet wholly owned. Garvey was fined “$1,000 and sentenced to five years in prison. The prison sentence was commuted later by President Calvin Coolidge, and Garvey was deported to Jamaica. According to Julius Garvey, 88, who is one of Marcus Garvey’s sons, President Biden stated in his inaugural address that the dream for justice should not be delayed any longer and that Garvey’s family is taking him at his word, hoping that the racial injustice experienced by his father over a century ago would be rectified.