JIS News

Jamaica’s Consul General to New York, Dr. Basil K. Bryan has praised the Jamaicans, who immigrated to United States at the turn of the 20th Century, noting that they have helped to shape the culture of that country.
The Consul General, was speaking at the birthday party for Jamaican-born Iris Stewart, at the offices of the Jamaican Consulate in Manhattan on Wednesday (Dec.8).
Ms. Stewart, who celebrated her 95th birthday on December 4, was hailed – along with her late sister Mable, as a pioneer in the campaign for an independent Jamaica, for their activist roles in organisations such as the Jamaica Benevolent Association and the Jamaica Progressive League.
“New York was Harlem and Harlem was the spirit and the rhythm of the (early) Caribbean people in the United States.and leading at the forefront of this vibrant Caribbean influx were Jamaicans like the Stewarts, Marcus Mosiah Garvey and Claude McKay,” the Consul General stated.
The Consul General noted however, that despite the strength of numbers, hard work and sweat, the Jamaican community had not effectively passed the baton to the younger generation and was therefore trailing other immigrant communities in terms of having effective representation at the highest level.
“If we look at the history of Harlem in the l920s, we will see that our people in fact accomplished much, but we need to build on that, which is a fascinating part of our history,” Dr. Bryan continued.
Ms. Stewart, who shows remarkable physical capabilities despite her age, said that she has accomplished much of her childhood dream of travelling the world.
“Veni, vedi, vici,” she said to applause from the gathering of family and friends, who gathered for the occasion.
The event also featured period photographs capturing the Caribbean American social scene in New York City and a nine feet by six feet tablecloth, which Ms. Stewart crocheted by hand between l946 and 1950. The tablecloth was done from scraps salvaged from discarded US flags.
Iris Stewart retired from the US Army Corp of Engineers in l976 after working there as a secretary for 25 years.

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