The Marriott Gateway Hotel in College Park, Georgia, set the stage on Saturday last for the hosting of the Atlanta Jamaica Association (AJA) Independence Ball. More than 500 Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica turned out in a celebratory mood at the 36th Annual Independence Ball and Scholarship Awards, in commemoration of Jamaica's 51st year of Independence.
Among those in attendance were Barbados Honorary Consul in Atlanta, Dr Edward Layne, and Mrs Layne; interim CEO of DeKalb County, Lee May; Sherriff of Newton County, Ezell Brown; international affairs director, City of Atlanta, Claire Angelle; Dr David Panton, co-founder and partner, Navigations Capital Partners; Mr and Mrs Neville Anderson, president and CEO, Green Energy Partners; Jewel Scott, former district attorney, Clayton County.
Amid the celebrations, the organisation took time out to pay tribute to former Jamaica Honorary Consul to Atlanta, Vin Martin, who served in that position for over 16 years. Glowing tributes were paid by professor of theology of Emory University, Dr Noel Erskine; pastor of Hillside Presbyterian Church, Dr Winston Lawson, and AJA president, Errol Ritchie. All lauded Martin on his outstanding and dedicated contribution to the Jamaican community in Atlanta.
The AJA and Tropical Sports Club awarded two scholarships to students of Jamaican parentage Kristin Henry and Desiree Watkis, students of the University of Georgia.
Ritchie, in his welcome remark, said that the association views the Independence anniversary celebration in Atlanta as the beginning of a new chapter in our country's journey to accomplish justice and prosperity for our fellow Jamaicans wherever they may be, and urged Jamaicans in Atlanta to join in a united effort to proudly celebrate the accomplishments of our beloved homeland.
The Fab Five Band, under the leadership of Frankie Campbell, had the patrons on the floor dancing the night away until the wee hours, taking them down memory lane with some oldies but goodies.
- Derrick A. Scott