Two Outstanding Jamaicans Honoured in Miami


Two outstanding Jamaicans, Professor Mervyn Morris, O.M, and Mrs. Norma Darby, were recognised at a recent ceremony, held at the Holy Family Episcopal Church, in Miami, Florida USA.
Several artistes performed songs and dances and did a selection of poetry readings in their honour.
Professor Morris and Mrs. Darby were among the many Jamaicans bestowed with national honours at the National Honours and Awards Ceremony, held at King’s House on October 19, National Heroes Day. Professor Morris received the Order of Merit for distinguished contribution to the field of West Indian Literature, while Mrs. Darby received the Badge of Honor for Meritorious Service to Jamaica and its Diaspora in the field of cultural arts.
Reverend Easton Lee, who chaired the evening’s programme, said the awardees have served their country well. “They both represent the scholarship, passion and commitment to calling that we should all strive to emulate,” he said.
Jamaica’s Consul-General, Mrs. Sandra Grant Griffiths, saluted Professor Morris and Mrs. Darby, describing them as stalwarts of the literary and cultural arts of Jamaica, “as their work bequeaths a legacy, tangibly in writing, benchmark performances and institution building for us to appreciate.”
Special tribute was paid to Mrs. Darby, as she was serenaded by the Jamaica Folk Revue and the Tallawah Mento Band.
The group of nearly 20 choristers and percussionists, now celebrating 30 years, was founded by Mrs. Darby to preserve the Jamaican culture abroad, through education and entertainment. Since its inception, the group has been making a significant contribution to South Florida’s cultural mix and continues to be the staple at almost every event showcasing the island’s rich culture and heritage.
Jamaican educator and author, Dr. Donna Aza Weir-Soley, of Florida International University read a selection from her book, ‘First Rain’, as she paid tribute to Professor Morris, whom she described as her mentor. Similarly, Professor Geoffrey Philp of Miami Dade College read from his book, ‘Twelve Poems and a Story for Christmas’.
Dub poet, Mr. Malachi Smith, brought the house down with three of his recitals – State of Emergency; Expiration; and Let Them Try.
Professor Morris surprised his audience with selections from his recent publication, ‘I Have Been There, Sort Of’, a collection of all his literary works.
The event was followed by a community reception.

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