The start of the Caribbean American Book and Art Fair at the Miramar Cultural Center in Florida was marked by the first annual Caribbean American Heritage Commemorative Gala, an event honoring “two distinguished Caribbean legends,” Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott of St. Lucia and Professor Emeritus Rex Nettleford of Jamaica. Both were presented with the Caribbean American Book and Art Fair Heritage awards by Consuls General of St. Lucia and Jamaica, Mr. Kent Hippolyte and Mrs. Sandra Grant Griffiths. Other awardees included Jamaica’s cultural ambassador, Mrs. Norma Darby of the Jamaica Folk Revue, and Belizean author, Ms. Zell Edgell. Two awards – Caribbean Cultural Award and Caribbean Media award were presented posthumously to Mr. Selman Lewis (1948-2008) of Trinidad, and Mr. Clint O’Neil (1944-2004) of Jamaica. Selman Lewis was founder of the Miami Carnival now celebrating its 25-year. Clint O’Neil helped popularize reggae in the United States as a pioneering Caribbean broadcaster in Florida. Among the guests were other members of the Caribbean Consular Corp representing Barbados, Bahamas and Belize, as well as United States public officials of Caribbean descent.
The weekend of activities included a “Laureate Conversation” between Walcott and Nettleford and a closing concert of Caribbean performers headlined by the King of Calypso, the Mighty Sparrow.