INFLUENTIAL CARIBBEAN WOMEN – Pt. 4

Influential Caribbean Women….. who has impacted our history, culture and society.

AMBASSADOR BETTY E. BOYEA-KING

Ambassador Betty E. Boyer-King, St. Vincent born was nominated on October 22, 2009, by President Obama to serve as the Representative of the United States to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and attested by the President on February 12, 2010.

Ambassador King served as the United States Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In that capacity, she worked on human rights, development, children, aging, and population issues. She was the principal U.S. negotiator on the Millennium Development Goals.

Ms. King has an extensive background in philanthropy having served as the Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged children. She served as the Senior Advisor to the CEO of the California Endowment where she worked to improve health services and systems, and as an advisor to the Atlantic Philanthropies on their programs for children and youth.

In the public sector, Ms King has served as the Deputy Commissioner for Mental Health Services in the District of Columbia, as the Director of the Department on Aging in Arkansas, and as an Assistant professor at the University of Arkansas. Before assuming her duties in Geneva, she also served on the boards of Refugees International, The United Nations Association of the United States, Phoenix House, and on the Advisory Board of the Annenberg School of Public Diplomacy.

Ms King earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, a Masters Degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, was a National Humanities Fellow at Harvard University, and a Public Policy Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles.

TIPHANIE YANIQUE

I’ve been writing as long as I have a memory. When I was five, I thought I wrote a novel. It was probably the alphabet over and over again. I was raised by my grandmother, who was a librarian. We always had books around and reading was the most celebrated activity in the house. I don’t have a granny that makes sugar cake or crochets. I have a granny who tells stories. I knew my mother had been a poet, but it wasn’t until I started to become a professional writer that the other, secret writers in my family started revealing themselves to me. My mother had been a poet, a cousin writes history, another journals. I’m sure there are more still.

Schoolteachers often asked me and other students to read our writing out loud. While this may seem kind of trivial and silly (I was still a child) it was vital to helping me consider writing as something that had a listening audience. Even when a reader is in a room by herself she’s still hearing the words in her own mind. Sound and rhythm are now a very important part of my writing.

But the most memorable story of my work being performed was not me performing it. When I was in my final year of high school, St Thomas, Virgin Islands, was victim to a major hurricane, Marilyn. We lived without running water and electricity for three months. Once school was back in session, a group called the Birch Forum put together a number of important events. One was inviting Maya Angelou to come read at our Reichhold Center. Associated with her coming was a poetry prize for high-school students. About four of us won and our poems were put into a book for her. When she started on stage she began her own performance by reading the poem I had written! She said something else about me being a part of the future of Virgin Islands writing…but I don’t remember exactly because I just about fell out of the balcony seat I was in.

Tiphanie Yanique 28, is the author of How to Escape from a Leper Colony, her work has attracted considerable critical acclaim, including the Boston Review Prize in Fiction, a Pushcart Prize a Fulbright in Creative Writing and an Academy of American Poet’s Prize. Her work has also appeared in Callaloo, Transition Magazine, American Short Fiction, & the London Magazine. She is an assistant professor of creative writing & Caribbean Literature at Drew University. The Boston Globe listed her as one of sixteen cultural figures to watch out for in 2010.”

MICHELE DUVIVIER-LOUIS

MICHELE DUVIVIER-LOUIS (born 5 October 1947) is a Haitian politician who was Prime Minister of Haiti from September 2008 to November 2009. She was Haiti’s second female Prime Minister, after Claudette Werleigh who served from 1995 to 1996.

Pierre-Louis has been the Executive Director of the Knowledge and Freedom Foundation (FOKAL), a non governmental organization financed by  George Soros, since 1995. In June 2008 she was nominated as Prime Minister by  President Rene Preval, after Préval’s two previous nominees were rejected by the  Chamber of Deputies.  Her nomination was approved by the Chamber of Deputies on 17 July 2008, with 61 votes in favor, one opposed, and 20 abstentions. It was approved by the Senate on 31 July, with 12 votes in favor, 5 abstentions and none opposed. Her political programme and government still had to be approved by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

Préval announced the composition of the new government on 25 August; aside from Pierre-Louis herself, there were 17 ministers, seven of whom were retained from the previous government of Jacques-Edouard Alexis. Pierre-Louis was appointed as Minister of Justice and Public Security, in addition to serving as Prime Minister. The government was to have been installed on 26 August, but this was delayed due to the impact of  Hurricane Gustav.

Pierre-Louis’ political programme and government were approved by the Chamber of Deputies and subsequently by the Senate on 5 September 2008, following extended negotiations. 16 votes were needed in the Senate; she received only 15 in the first vote, but in a second vote held shortly afterward she gained the necessary additional vote. There were no opposing votes, but one senator abstained. This vote occurred as Haiti was ravaged by the effects of Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike, presenting a daunting challenge to Pierre-Louis and her government.

HAZEL SCOTT

Hazel Dorothy Scott (June 11, 1920 – October 2, 1981) was an internationally known, American jazz and classical pianist and singer.

She was called the “Darling of Café Society” back in 1939 when New York City was alive with the sounds of swing. A sexy siren sitting bare-shouldered at the piano, Hazel captivated audiences with her renditions of classical masterpieces by Chopin, Bach and Rachmaninoff. Nightly, crowds would gather at Café Society, New York’s first fully integrated nightclub, the epicenter of jazz and politics nestled in Greenwich Village, to hear the nineteen-year-old bronze beauty transform “Valse in D-Flat Major”, “Two Part Invention in A-Minor,” and “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” into highly syncopated sensations. “But where others murder the classics, Hazel Scott merely commits arson,” wrote TIME magazine.

Hazel Scott was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago to Alma Long Scott, a musician. They moved to New York when Hazel was four. Recognized as a child musical prodigy, the young Scott was awarded scholarships to study classical piano at the Juilliard School from the age of eight. As a teenager, she performed piano and trumpet with her mother’s “Alma Long Scott” all-girl jazz band, which sometimes featured Lil Hardin-Armstrong.

By the age of 16, Hazel Scott regularly performed for radio programs for the Mutual Broadcasting System, gaining a reputation as the “hot classicist.” In the mid-1930s, she also performed at the Roseland Dance Hall with the Count Basie Orchestra. Her early musical theatre appearances in New York included the Cotton Club Revue of 1938, Sing Out the News and The Priorities of 1942.

Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Scott performed jazz, blues, ballads, popular (Broadway songs and boogie-woogie) and classical music in various nightclubs. From 1939 to 1943 she was a leading attraction at both the downtown and uptown branches of Café Society. Her performances created national prestige for the practice of “swinging the classics”.

In addition to Lena Horne, Scott was one of the first African American women to garner respectable roles in major Hollywood pictures. She performed as herself in several features, notably I Dood It (MGM 1943), Broadway Rhythm (MGM 1944), with Lena Horne and in the otherwise all-white cast The Heat’s On (Columbia 1943), Something to Shout About (Columbia 1943), and Rhapsody in Blue  (Warner Bros 1945). In the 1940s, in addition to her film appearances, Scott was featured in Café Society’s From Bach to Boogie-Woogie Carnegie Hall  concerts (1941 and 1943).

She was the first woman of color to have her own television show, The Hazel Scott Show, which premiered on the DuMont Television Network on July 3, 1950. During a period of continued racism in the advertising industry as well as economic hardships for jazz musicians in general, the show was canceled in 1950. Some journalists speculated that the show was canceled because of her name’s appearance in the Red Channels published by Counterattack. Scott was called to testify by the House Un-American Activities Committee just before her television variety program was canceled on September 29, 1950. Scott remained publicly opposed to McCarthyism and racial segregation throughout her career.

n Scott moved to Paris in the late 1950s, where she appeared in the French film Le Désordre et la Nuit’ (1958). She maintained a steady but difficult career in France and touring throughout Europe until returning to the US in 1967. She continued to play occasionally in nightclubs, while also appearing in daytime television until the year of her death. She made her television acting debut in 1973 on the ABC daytime soap opera One Life to Live,” performing a wedding song at the nuptials of her “onscreen cousin”, Carla Gray Hall, portrayed by Ellen Holly. Scott recorded as the leader of various groups for Decca, Columbia and Signature, among them a trio that consisted of Bill English and the double bass player Martin Rivera, and another featuring Charles Mingus on bass and Rudie  Nichols on drums. Her album Relaxed Piano Moodson the Debut Record label, with Mingus and Max Roach, is generally her work most highly regarded by critics today. In 1945 Scott married Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a U.S. Congressman. They had one child Adam Clayton Powell III, but divorced in 1960 after an earlier separation. On January 19, 1961, she married again, to Ezio Bedin, a Swiss-born comedian. New York City.  She was 61 years old, and survived by her sodam Clayton Powell III.

BARONESS PATRICIA JANET SCOTLAND, QC

Baroness Patricia Scotland QC, is currently the Shadow Attorney General and Spokesperson for the Law Office. Previously she served as Attorney General in the last Labour Government under Gordon Brown, when she was the first woman appointed to hold this position since its foundation.

Baroness Scotland is a distinguished lawyer becoming the youngest ever QC at age 35, before receiving a life peerage in 1997. From 1999 to 2001 Baroness Scotland was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor’s Department and Government Spokesperson for Law Officers’ Department 2001-03; Minister of State and Government Spokesperson for Home Office 2003-07; Government Spokesperson for: Trade and Industry 2004-05, Women and Equality Issues.

Baroness Scotland was born in the Commonwealth of Dominica as the tenth child of twelve. Her family moved to Walthamstow when she was two years old. She attended the Walthamstow School for Girls. She was educated at Mid Essex Technical College in Chelmsford where she pursued a London University (LLB) law degree in 1976 (in association with University College London). She was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1977, specialising in family and children’s law. Baroness Scotland made history in 1991 by becoming the first black woman to be appointed a Queen’s Council. She later founded 1 Gray’s Inn Square barristers chambers. Early in 1997 she was elected as a Bencher of the Middle Temple. Scotland was named as a Millennium Commissioner on 17 February 1994, and was a member of the Commission For Racial Equality. She received a life peerage on a Labour Party list of working peers in 1997.

Baroness Scotland is the Patron of the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence. She is the joint Patron of Missio, a charity which is the Catholic Church’s official support organisation for overseas mission.

Baroness Scotland resides in London and in Asthal, the Oxfordshire village, where she and her barrister husband live with their two sons.

(Source: Golden Map)

CLAUDIA JONES

Claudia Jones (15 February 1915—24 December 1964) was born in Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad. She was a feminist, Black Nationalist, political activist, community leader, journalist, and communist in the U.S.. She is also remembered in the UK as ‘the mother of Notting Hill Carnival’.

As a result of the post-war cocoa price crash in Trinidad, when she was eight years old, she moved to Harlem, New York. Her mother died five years later and her father eventually found work to support the family.

She went on to win the Theodore Roosevelt Award for Good Citizenship at her junior high school, however due to her poor living conditions she was struck with tuberculosis in 1932. This was a condition that irreparably damaged her lungs, and she was plagued by it for the rest of her life.

She lived in New York for almost 30 years, becoming an active member of local Communist politics, and in 1941, at the age of 25. she became the National Director of the YCL. By 1948 Jones had been elected to the National Committee of the Communist Party of the USA and became the editor of the column ‘Negro Affairs’ for the party’s paper the Daily Worker.

Soon she had become an experienced public speaker on human and civil rights, giving speeches to increasingly large crowds. She travelled around the country to attend various political events, however soon her activities and rousing speeches began to attract the attention of the authorities. This was at a time when the U.S. was experiencing the McCarthy witch-hunts and anti-communist hysteria, which is now known as McCarthyism.

In total she was arrested and imprisoned four times by the U.S. government. In 1955 she was deported from the U.S., and given asylum in England.

In London during the late 1950s the cultural and social pressures were coming to a head. Racist gangs and supporters of Oswald Moseley’s Union Movement and Colin Jordan’s White Defence League were leading attacks on members of the Afro-Caribbean community. In the summer of 1958 tensions reached a new high, which resulted in the Notting Hill race riots in late August and early September. Racist violence in the area peaked on 17 May 1959, with the murder of a young Antiguan man, Kelso Cochrane by six white men who have never been arrested.


Claudia became very active in the campaigns to defend the Black community and involved herself in local politics, as well as joining the British Communist Party. She founded and edited The West Indian Gazette which was a strong vehicle for her ongoing campaign for equal opportunities for black people. She was embraced by the British Afro-Caribbean community, and become one of the most charismatic Black leaders of her day.

Claudia Jones lasting contribution in the UK is the Notting Hill Carnival. In 1959 she helped to launch Mardi-Gras celebrations, an annual showcase for Afro-Caribbean talent. These early events were held in halls and were epitomised by the slogan, ‘A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom’. These celebrations grow in popularity each year.

Claudia Jones died on Christmas Eve 1964 aged just 49, due to a heart condition and tuberculosis. She died alone and broke, and it was around 48 hours before her body was discovered. She is buried in Highgate Cemetery next to Karl Marx.The National Union of Journalists’ Black Members Council holds a prestigious annual Claudia Jones Memorial Lecture every October, during Black History Month, to honour Jones and celebrate her contribution to Black-British journalism.

In October 2008, Britain’s Royal Mail commemorated Jones with a special postage stamp.

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