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The American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) will present the 2006 International Humanitarian Award to entertainment mogul Chris Blackwell, at its 25th annual benefit gala and auction yesterday (Oct.19) in New York.
Chris Blackwell, who is among the elite in the music industry, is founder of Island Records, which was responsible for launching the careers of a number of outstanding recording artistes, including reggae icon Bob Marley. He has successfully branched out into film production with Palm Pictures and hotel management with Island Outpost.
Former United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Glen Holden, who is chairman of AFJ, noted that “Chris (Blackwell) has been a visionary in all the diverse industries he has served. His contributions have been significant and played a critical role in increasing access to Jamaican music worldwide”.
Mr. Blackwell joins a distinguished list of persons and corporations that have been honoured by the AFJ including designer Ralph Lauren; founder of AIC and National Commercial Bank chairman Michael Lee-Chin; President Ronald Reagan, United States Congressman, Charles Rangel and Oliver Clarke, Chairman and Managing Director of the Gleaner Company Limited. Bob Marley received this award posthumously in 2001.
The AFJ fundraising gala, known for its elegance, attracts American and Jamaican businesspersons, philanthropists, social sector leaders and members of the diplomatic corps worldwide.
Jamaican Keisha Phipps, AFJ Executive Director, noted that the annual event provided “an opportunity for networking with those interested in and committed to the development of Jamaica. We have a responsibility to assist the most vulnerable in society and know our contributions over the years have made a lasting impact”.
Since its inception in 1982, the AFJ has donated almost $11 million to Jamaica charities focused in the areas of education, healthcare and economic development. In 2006, 15 grants were awarded to organizations such as the Ministry of Education, the Jamaica Society for the Blind and Hanover Charities. In addition to fundraising activities, the AFJ has partnered with corporations and foundations such as the Tiger Woods Foundation, Jockey International, GraceKennedy Limited and Western Union International. The organization recently launched its Diaspora Giving Programme, through which it invites Diaspora members to raise funds for charitable causes in Jamaica.