The conference after three years of virtual deliberation finally returned to live audience at Sandals Ochi, in Jamaica and it was a heartwarming coming together again.
Folks felt the need and so expressed it that virtual might be fine, but the networking and the personal interconnection and relationship is really what matters as we look to deal with issues of the world and how we can be a part of the solution.
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And so as folks arrive for the conference, you could just see the broad smiles on their faces. The guy were tight and and lingering as they got together again, and it was raining as folks got together on Thursday afternoon but that did not trouble them because they were inside and they were with colleagues, friends looking towards coming together, greeting each other, and it was really a sight to behold.
The warm greeting extended to eve n the staff as they welcome the delegates to the conference. You could see that they got very involved.
There were refreshments for the delegates as they there arrived, and there were even stand-by masseuses to give them back and shoulder rubs as they settled in.
It was a great welcome and Sandals went out of the way to help people feel comfortable as they prepared for our deliberations.
And so with that warm and purposefulness of each and every delegate coming to the conference, the opening session saw everyone was on time, ready, set to go and it was a grade as the host of the day was Dr. Marcia Keizs, Former President of York College who guided the presentations and discussions in an organized and skill that everyone felt comfortable, engaged and involved.
As Bishop Sylvester Gonzalez gave the opening prayer, she remarked that many of those there had many options to exercise to attend, but they chose to be with us in Jamaica, and for good reason because through the 28 years of organizing the conference has brought people together of value to countries, and the wonderful sense of engagement and involvement and expected no less.
And as we went through her conference, the opening keynote was by Amb. Andrew Young, former US Ambassador to the United Nations of Atlanta, and former member of the US Congress, and co-convening of the conference supported through the years. He was with the conference in Jamaica, but he wanted to have his present, and it was only because of a critical immediate situation that prevented him from being in person. He remarked that year after year when he comes to the conference, he comes to learn to connect and it has never failed him, and he went on to talk about the Golden Triangle of People of Color in the Caribbean, African-Americans and of course, those in Africa and the value power of that theme carried through the conference, the theme that continues to emphasize and he wanted to be sure that this happens.
He went on to remark that the conference is the ideal pay this kind of deliberation, and expect that as you look to face the many crises of the world, when you have leaders coming together like they do at the conference it is a hope, certainly good indication of possibility of good work to be had, and so he wished everyone a successful conference, and promised that he will remain engaged in the mission of the conference and offered his full support.
Next the sessions were up and that was followed immediately by the opening presentation by the Most Honorable, PJ Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, and the Statesman-in-Residence at the Patterson Institute at the University of the West Indies for Advocacy to Advance Economic and Cultural Development in Africa, the Caribbean and the diaspora.
What a presentation that was respect to the urgent need for collaboration to work together, and the value and reminded the audience that the conference was held when he was Prime Minister.
One of the largest conference held four years later it was also when he was Prime Minister, and that he sees this conference as a continuum of how people can come together and work together, and that’s why he remains engaged and committed to the conference and brings his team to examine how best to deliberate and to go forward with the issues as it impacts us. The day got off to a wonderful start by the time we got to the leadership forum where we had Hazel Dukes, the civil rights icon, Carl Heastie, the Speaker of the New York City Assembly, Senate Kevin Parker, Hon. Diane Abbott, Member of UK Parliament, a message from Hon. Charles Rangel and the session was moderated by Dr. Moronke Oshin-Martin and we just had a wonderful coming together on what leadership means, and how we need to identify and pull that together and also the need for use, engagement, and involvement at this and every level. By the time this session was over ready, people were literally spellbound, engaged, was so were up to a great, start and so we went through the program from an excellent investment forum around “Investing in Foreign Markets”, again looking at the Golden Triangle.
There was just great engagement that should take place and why it is so necessary for development, for growth, and for wealth creation to change the direction of world economic pattern where poverty is rampant in certain areas while other areas are enjoying major advancement.
People engaged, people were ready to take action and commit to work with this project and the effort for private equity operation to look to these areas for investments.
And so it went on through the day and we have all the programs on YouTube and all the reports are available for you to be aware and fully also get the benefit of what was shared.
It continued for two days, the women empowerment and health sessions were excellent as we talked about health disparities, and demonstrated through statistics and studies what needs to be done to correct these disparities and how in many instances hoe they came about and so it was just engagement there.
The women session of power and influence was absolutely powerful and spell binding as these highly accomplished women spoke of their journeys and how they inspire others about their success.
The trend of engagement was there and in the sessions, people were committed, so much so, that when we wrapped up, pulling together the agenda and capping, the room was full and overflowing and when time came to break for the gala and wards ceremony, people were excited to stay and complete the agenda. We extended the time by 45 minutes to get through more of the items.
People wanted to know that their time was well spent and the mission should be defined, leaving everyone to work on how ready to bring solutions to these problems.
The evening ended with a keynote address by Hon. Yvette Clarke, Member of US Congress, with a Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Hazel Dukes. She has been with conference throughout the 28 years, and has collaborated with the African-American community to the African community and she talks about how much she has learned, almost like a university education.
Coming to the conference year after year and she was just delighted that it’s back in person and the and she President of NAACP sent special message to Dr. Dukes and Hon. Charles Rangel, and a special message of congratulations. The room was just full of love for her and the work she has done and she received a standing ovation when she was presented with the award. The other two awardees were Ms. Diane Abbott and Hon. Carl Heastie.