JIS News

Prime Minister P. J. Patterson has called on the international community to dedicate increased resources to fighting hunger, infectious diseases, genocide, terrorism and environmental degradation and to decrease expenditure on armaments.The Prime Minister, who was speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus’ annual awards banquet held on September 24 at the Washington Convention Centre, noted that his personal quest over the years, had been to assist in the building of “a global framework where industrialized countries and developing nations alike would have an equal voice in determining how to best protect and to share the earth’s resources.”
America’s top black leadership in politics, business and entertainment attended the ceremony, where the Prime Minister was presented with the Charles Diggs award for International Service, named for the late African American congressman.
Other honourees included Debra Lee, President and Chief Executive Officer of Black Entertainment Television (BET), while John H. Johnson, late publisher and chairman of the Johnson Publishing Co. Inc., which produces the renowned Jet and Ebony magazines, was posthumously honoured.
The CBC also recognized several members of the New Orleans African-American community, who risked their lives to rescue those who suffered the worst effects of Hurricane Katrina.
In accepting the award, Mr. Patterson noted the strong fraternal bonds between the African-American community and Jamaica, which were personified by the significant contributions made to the struggle for the political and social enfranchisement of black America by Jamaican national hero Marcus Garvey.
Mr. Patterson said that he was humbled and gratified for the recognition of his work within the international community, but further observed that Garvey’s mandate to “redress the inequities of our history and change irreversibly the cruel imbalance that our people have suffered in the economic arena and social development, at both the global and domestic levels,” had remained largely unfulfilled. “I see my brothers and sisters in the CBC as stalwart partners in the struggle to promote economic self-reliance, democratic governance and social upliftment to fulfil the needs of our citizens,” he stated.
He noted that, “together, we must continue to strive for unity of purpose and action among us. We seek together to fashion a single world, which we can inhabit and where, irrespective of gender, age, religious creed, or colour, we can all live in harmony together, because we all belong to the human race,” adding that, “there can be no lasting peace so long as a few seek to perpetuate political and social dominance to the detriment of those who have been marginalized far too long. Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere”.
The Prime Minister also paid tribute to the African-American community in New Orleans stating that, “no one can dispute the fact that the African-American influence on the culture and vibrancy of New Orleans is the most pervasive, giving heart and soul to this unique city.”
Among those who attended the function, which brought to a close the 35th annual legislative conference of the CBC were: former presidential candidates Senator John Kerry and Governor Howard Dean; California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who introduced the Prime Minister; top executives of Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola, Lockheed Martin, General Motors and Johnson & Johnson; and entertainers Sheryl Lee Ralph, Wyclef Jean, James Avery and Alfre Woodard. Prior to the Prime Minister’s address, a biographical video depicting the high points of his political and personal life was screened.
During the function, Mr. Patterson also met informally with several attendees including the sole African-American member of the United States Senate, Barack Obama; activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte and long-time friend, Congressman Charles Rangel of New York.