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The late cultural icon, Louise Bennett Coverley (Miss Lou), has been described as a national giant, for her contribution to Jamaica’s cultural heritage and folklore. Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the College of Staten Island – City University of New York (CUNY), Dr. Effie Simmonds said that Miss Lou, “captured the essence of Jamaican life and the indomitable spirit of our people most profoundly”, in her work.
Dr. Simmonds, a Jamaican, was delivering the keynote address at the first Heritage Salute (2006), honouring Miss Lou, at the Jamaican Consulate, Manhattan, recently.
Miss Lou died in Canada in July this year and was given an official funeral by the Jamaican Government. She was buried in National Heroes Park.”Miss Lou’s celebration of Jamaican culture was life-long. She believed in laughter. She made us laugh at ourselves. She addressed serious, societal issues with sensitivity, always providing sensible perspectives. She has left us an enduring legacy,” Dr. Simmonds said.
She said that as Jamaicans, “we can be proud of the world class contribution of our native sons and daughters”. She noted that “understanding and feeling”, were among Miss Lou’s greatest attributes.
In his welcome remarks, Consul-General of Jamaica in New York, Dr. Basil K. Bryan paid tribute to the many Jamaican “heroes and sheroes who are doing the everyday things that make Jamaica shine and keep that Black, Green and Gold flag waving triumphantly”.
The Heritage Salute, a special presentation of the Jamaican Consulate and the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), featured a display of ‘Things Jamaican,’ a life size painting of Miss Lou by artist, Kippax Williams, a cultural pot pourri and performances in song, dance and spoken word from the Caribbean Cultural Theatre, Brooklyn.