The Black Tie Gala, held this past Thanksgiving Friday night at the upscale Antuns’s Caterers, in Queens Village—and celebrating Barbados’ 52nd Anniversary of Independence—was memorable, well organized, well received, and featured Cultural Ambassador Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire.
In raising a toast to the island, Barbados’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson reflected on the Independence journey, the island’s history and achievements, and urged a sense of unity of purpose as Barbados moves forward and upward.
“52 years ago, we stood on the brink of history following a charismatic leader; tonight, we again stand on the brink of history following a charismatic leader. 52 years ago, we worked hard to accomplish all the things that our country has achieved; 52 years from now, someone else will be standing here and will look back and reflect on what a difficult place we were at, but how we did our country proud by taking it upward.”
Thompson, noting the different political colours in the audience, was honest and frank and received repeated applause throughout her toast.
“52 years ago, we didn’t have a sense of self, of an Independent Barbados, of an educated black Barbados, of Barbadians who have achieved both at home and abroad, and of what we were really capable of. So we have come to a different place in our history, in our growth and in our development. We are standing on 52 years of achievement, of skills, of a sense of where we are, and what we can achieve. And it is that sense of achievement that must power us forward,” she declared.
Thompson’s reflective toast to Barbados was prompted and inspired by a recent conversation at home, that made her revisit where we are, how we got here, and where we are going.
“52 years ago, Barbados took a giant step on a rainy night at the Garrison. They stood in the rain a very long time, waiting for the flag to be raised. It was for many Barbadians a moment of fear. They were breaking away from everything they knew and had become accustomed to, and felt secure to chart a path behind a charismatic leader who stood firm in the belief that we should be friends of all and satellites of none.
“52 years later, on a cold winter’s night in New York, I stand here, on behalf of a charismatic Prime Minister, who says that many hands make light work, and that we must work for Barbados, and every one of us are a piece of Barbados . . . . Just don’t focus on how we got here, but let us focus on what we can do. Barbados needs all of you, all of your tremendous skills, tremendous talents and amazing networks.”
John Blackman also brought greetings, and in his remarks indicated that Consul General at New York, E St Clair ‘Mackie’ Holder was unable to be present.
The affair was organized by the Friends of DLP, NY, in association with other interested patriotic Barbadians.
Speaking after the affair, Pauline Clarke, President of the Friends of DLP, expressed satisfaction with the quality of the event and the support she received.
For the record, the hall and tables were beautifully decorated in Barbados’ national colours while many patrons were elegantly dressed in black. Music was provided by Technic Mix while Red Plastic Bag performed for more than half hour. There was also a well patronized silent auction and a programme compliments Stephen Legall Funeral Home.
Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Barbados Hospice Project.