By Sharon Gordon
Brooklyn, NEW YORK:
By all accounts the 16th annual staging of the Woman of Great Esteem Emerald Awards ceremony at the prestigious Palm House in Brooklyn on Saturday, March 31, was a huge success.
The Woman of Great Esteem Emerald Award is presented each year to women who develop and advance their communities and labor in an atmosphere that fosters trust and teamwork. The honorees at the 2012 award ceremony represented Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Dominica, Bermuda and the United States of America.
Dr. Karlene ChinQuee and Dr. Geneive Brown-Metzger were the two Jamaicans honored this year. In her speech, Dr. ChinQuee lauded the work women in particular those unsung “sheroes among us.” delight Dr. Brown Metzger, former Consul General to New York from Jamaica was not in attendance and Garry Lightbourne accepted on her behalf. Attorney Gail Adams represented Guyana and expressed her delight in receiving her award.
She had the audience in tears as she became a tad bit emotional upon accepting the honor. Dominica’s Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Honorable Alix Boyd Knights honored her heritage by accepting her award attired in traditional Dominican garb. Upon accepting her Emerald Award, native New Yorker, attorney Shari Lee Sugarman spoke of her desire to connect communities via her work with women and children.
Barbadian Cynthia “Sis” Byer was honored posthumously for her many years of dedication to the struggle of not only women but minorities. In the United States, she walked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was life time labor leader in New York State. Accepting on her behalf was her son, retired Obstetrician and Gynecologist Dr. Byer along with his grandson, Chandler, who attends MACADEMY School of Science and Technology. Bermuda’s Premiere, Paul Cox did not disappoint with her keynote address.
She absolutely resonated with those gathered to celebrate the achievements of such a distinguished group of women. The Premiere held her audience captive and at times had them on their feet in thunderous applause.
In keeping with the theme of the celebration, “Woman of Great Esteem” Premiere Cox shared her concerns regarding the current onslaught against women and connected the dots by recalling the story of Mary Prince an enslaved African woman who lived in Bermuda during the 18th century.
Mary Prince was the first Black woman to publish a slave narrative with the help of a “learned person” she was able to speak out against the cruelty of slavery by telling her story and showing how she struggled against a vicious and cruel master and a system that was in place to keep her in bondage. Premiere Cox spoke of Mary Prince’s fortitude and deep desire to overcome the hardships she faced daily.
The story of Mary Prince is among one of the few authentic slave narratives of that period. By using this story as a guidepost, Premiere Cox was able to connect with her audience on a very personal level. The highlight of the evening came when Congress Woman Yvette D. Clarke arrived right in time to present Premiere Cox with the 2012 Award of Excellence, which was a surprise to the Premiere.
The entire Bermuda Delegation was on their feet as Congress Woman Clarke spoke of the extraordinary woman that is Premiere Paula Cox. The Award of Excellence is presented each year to a woman whose exemplary life achievements have brought her prominence amongst her peers, honor from her community and positive notoriety in her nation and the world.
Social competence The WGE Emerald Award Ceremony is a fundraiser for the development and expansion of MACADEMY School of Science and Technology where they promote academic excellence and achievement as well as social competence, arts/culture and socio-political awareness. Students are encouraged in civic consciousness and international partnership.
They will be travelling to Bermuda later on this year to meet with Premiere Cox and her delegation. The students also played a significant role in the annual celebration, from the procession of the honorees to the procession of the flags, MACADEMY students are front and center during the annual celebration. These youngsters are involved at all levels in the execution of the Woman of Great Esteem Awards.