Jamaicans living abroad continued to make their mark on the world in 2023. A Kingston native was presented with an award for his dedication by the United States Navy, and a Jamaican made history when he became the highest-ranking Jamaican in New York’s Police Department. Miramar in Florida honored Jamaica’s Olympic champion and sprint legend with a bronze statue, and US President Joe Biden appointed a Jamaican to his Council of Economic Advisers. Jamaica sculptor Basil Watson won a major award in the United Kingdom for his work, “The Windrush Monument.”
Native of Kingston Honored by the United States Navy
Jamaican Warren Allen, a fireman apprentice in the United States Navy serving on the ship, USS Iwo Jima, received an award recognizing him for his “superior dedication.” The leadership on the ship presents an award each month to sailors who demonstrate dedication to the ship’s values, which address learning, improvement, wellness, ownership, and safety. Warren, who is from Kingston, was honored for exemplifying the ship’s core value of ownership. He said the award was very meaningful to him as it meant that his work and achievements were valued. Warren is a graduate of Wolmer’s Boys’ School and currently serves as a machinist’s mate on the amphibious assault ship, which is part of the Amphibious Readiness Group/Expeditionary Strike Group. These groups provide ship-to-shore movement via helicopter to the Marine Corps as well as by landing craft.
Jamaica-Born New York Police Officer Made History with Appointment as Borough Commander
Jamaican-born Ruel Stephenson became the highest-ranking Jamaican in the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the first Jamaican in the department’s history to serve in the role when he was selected to be borough commander. Stephenson was born in Clarendon and attended Race Course Primary School before moving to the United States at the age of 10. He now has the rank of Assistant Chief and is responsible for the Manhattan North Borough of the police department. Stephenson noted that his appointment will allow him to influence how the department engages with the Jamaican community in New York. Stephenson joined the New York City police department in 1995 as a patrolman in the 70th Precinct. He has risen through the ranks throughout his career, serving as sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy inspector, inspector, and now as deputy chief.
City of Miramar Honored Usain Bolt with His First Statue in the United States
The City of Miramar in Florida honored Jamaican sprint legend and Olympic champion, Usain Bolt, with a bronze statue created by Jamaican sculptor Basil Barrington Watson at the Ansin Sports Complex. This is the first statue of Bolt to be erected in the United States. Bolt, who is from Trelawny in Jamaica, is the world record-holder in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100 meter relay. He is the most decorated sprint athlete in history. Miramar is home to one of the world’s largest populations of Jamaicans outside of Jamaica, and according to the city’s vice-mayor, Alexandra P. Davis, the statue will be a constant reminder to aspiring athletes that anything is possible and that there are no limits, as Bolt himself often states.
Jamaican Appointed to U.S. President’s Council of Economic Advisers
Jamaican C. Kirabo Jackson was appointed by United States President Joe Biden to serve on his Council of Economic Advisers. His Jamaican father, Clement Jackson, was the first director of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, and his mother, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, is a lecturer at the University of Technology. In the announcement of Jackson’s appointment, the White House noted his exceptional academic career and his selection as the Abraham Harris Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. He has worked as co-editor for the American Economic Journal, Economic Policy, and the Journal of Human Resources. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2022 in recognition of his contributions to many fields.
Jamaican Sculptor Presented with Prestigious Public Arts Award in the United Kingdom
Jamaica sculptor Basil Watson is the winner of the Marsh Award, which is presented by the United Kingdom Public Statues and Sculptures Association. His artwork, “The Windrush Monument,” was selected by popular vote to receive the 2023 award. The monument, which is installed in London’s Waterloo Station, honors the people who came from the Caribbean on the HMS Windrush after World War II, heeding the call of the UK to help rebuild the country. The monument presents a visual narrative featuring a man, woman, and child with their suitcases to symbolize the significance of the Windrush journey in the development of the UK and its culture. Watson described his work as a “tangible and evocative” memorial to a pivotal moment in human history.