On Sunday February 28, 2016, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, His Excellency Sam T. Condor, graced the halls of the Crawford United Church in the Bronx as a guest of the Kittitian American Benevolent Association’s (KABA) annual Black History Concert.
The Ambassador used the opportunity to laud the work of KABA and commended members for over thirty three years of service to the federation. In his delivery, Ambassador Condor demonstrated that KABA’s work is a lesson in Black History. “Our own Kittitian and Nevisian heritage bears evidence of a rich history and our future looks extremely promising given the foundation laid for our current generation and the rich pool of resources that continue to be available for generations to come,” he stated. Ambassador Condor also used the opportunity to recognize the founders of KABA for their vision and motivation to extend their philanthropic spirit beyond their adopted home away from St. Kitts and Nevis.
Ambassador Condor declared, “It is instructive that the motivation to establish KABA was the desire to rebuild the St. Kitts Public Library, which was tragically destroyed by fire in 1982. The collaboration of these founding women resulted in the collection and the shipping of over ten thousand books to St. Kitts.” The Ambassador expressed his pleasure for the invitation to give remarks at the annual event and looks forward to more initiatives that celebrate Kittitian and Nevisian heritage.
The KABA Black History event was an exercise in sober reflection on the challenges of the black race, appreciation for the accomplishments of people of color, and the burgeoning anticipation for the future of black people throughout the world. From Uriel Swanston’s rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” on guitar to the group rendition of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, Sunday’s event served as a reminder that the tireless work of KABA organizers is really a testimony to the dedication of its members to the mission of service to others. Without committed servants who continue to share the stories of our ancestors, we are void as a people.
KABA executive Mrs. Helen Byron-Baker, shared a story titled, “What if There Were No Black People in the World.” It’s a lesson of a young boy who learns from his mother the myriad inventions for which black people are responsible and the challenges ordinary human beings would endure today if there were no black people. From the light bulb, to the refrigerator to the iron board and the fountain pen, there is much for which people of color ought to feel proud. See link. http://
Guests engaged in an insightful quiz on Black History, and were also entertained in song by KABA executive member and event host Mr. Randy Wyatt. Other contributions included a History of the celebration of Black History Month delivered by Mr. Eugene Francis and a poem about the love of her maternal grandmother by Ms. Heather Archibald.
Educator and main speaker for Sunday’s Black History event Kittitian born Dr. Mamzelle Adolphine took attendees on a visual journey throughout the United States of America. There, she offered candid insights on the accomplishments of people of color and the importance of sharing the rich history of the black race. Dr. Adolphine posited that many of our youth wander at a very early stage of their life not merely because they want to be mischief makers but because they are void of the knowledge about who came before them and what they endured, lack of appreciation for the prosperity of black people in light of the trials they have overcome and lack of direction or desire to attain great things in the future. Every young person must be taught through the adults in their lives how much pride there is in the black culture. Without it, she opined, we are a people doomed. Mervyn Boone of Primerica, a US based insurance and financial firm shared insight on growing wealth in the black community and offered his services to attendees interested in wealth building.
The event ended with closing remarks by long standing KABA member Shirley Nelson.
The full message delivered by Ambassador Condor can be found below.
Address by the Permanent Representative to the United Nations His Excellency Sam T. Condor
DATE: SUNDAY FEBRUARY 28, 2016
KITTITIAN & AMERICAN BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION (KABA)
TITLE: KABA IS BLACK HISTORY
I wish to record and express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the officers and members of KABA for your invitation to be with you today as we celebrate Black History Month.
I am deeply honoured to be invited to speak with you; or like the late Dr. Walter Rodney would say, “To have a little grounding with the brothers and sisters!”
Almost fifty years ago today – in fact, forty–nine years ago yesterday, (27th February 1967), St. Kitts Nevis and Anguilla became a State in Association with Great Britain (Statehood). Sixteen years later, we gained our Independence and joined the family of nations. Today, I address you as the current and fifth Ambassador to the United Nations; the previous four before me being Dr. William Valentine Herbert Jr., Sir Lee Llewellyn Moore, Mr. Joseph Christmas and Mr. Frank Delano Bart, Q.C.
THE CELEBRATION OF BLACK HISTORY IN AMERICA
The celebration of black history in America evolved from the celebration of “Negro History Week,” which was created in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, a noted African American historian, scholar, educator, and publisher. Fifty years later in 1976, black history became a month-long celebration. The month of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. There are scores of successes that African Americans can boast of in every aspect of their existence.
Today, we focus on KABA’s History. In doing so, I wish to recognize the founding Mothers of KABA.
Founded in New York some thirty–three years ago by Dr. Ismay Taylor, Helen M. Byron–Baker, Margaret Robinson, Vera Caines, Ada Hendrickson and Stella Winfield, the Kittitian American Benevolent Association (KABA) based in New York, has been a trailblazer in providing a vast spread of services to the Kittitian and Nevisian citizenry at home and abroad.
It is instructive that the motivation to establish KABA was the desire to rebuild the St. Kitts Public Library, which was tragically destroyed by fire in 1982. The collaboration of these founding women resulted in the collection and the shipping of over ten thousand books to St. Kitts. Located at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC), the St. Kitts Public Library was built in honor of one of the island’s first writers and book salesmen, who specialized in Black History, Mr. Charles A. Halbert. From the ashes of the St. Kitts Library rose a phoenix of benevolence called KABA; a philanthropic organization dedicated to providing humanitarian services throughout the United States and the Caribbean, particularly in St. Kitts and Nevis. In addition, KABA women have made black history by bringing patrons together to serve the people of our blossoming twin island nation.
And so as we celebrate Black History, we also celebrate KABA for KABA IS BLACK HISTORY.
KABA has been, and is continuing to be helpful, restorative and sustaining to the specific needs and general care of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. KABA has made significant contributions to the country including the donation of a fire truck to the Fire Department, Hospital Beds and Supplies to J.N.F. Hospital, Hurricane Relief, and many donations to the Red Cross. Here in New York City, KABA has also hosted and co–hosted several social and cultural events over the years that highlight the talents and vibrant spirit of the Kittitian and Nevisian culture that is alive in America.
By continuing its service to community and nation building, the work of KABA IS BLACK HISTORY.
Our own Kittitian and Nevisian heritage bears evidence of a rich History and our future looks extremely promising given the foundation laid for our current generation and the rich pool of resources that continue to be available for generations to come.
Today’s celebration of black history is an opportunity to laud the work of KABA and to encourage the visionaries of the organization to pass the baton to the next generation to ensure the years of work done for the good of others is not taken for granted. In fact, we are reminded of Alex Haley’s Thesis in his celebrated novel Roots speaking to three groups of people, “First are those you could see today – walking around, eating, sleeping, and working. Second are the ancestors, and the third people – are those waiting to be born.” This truth powerfully tells of the continuum in which we live; our past and our future.
As a mark of respect for the many African American trailblazers who have helped to make America great, America’s first black President Barack Obama declared, “We recognize these champions of justice and the sacrifices they made to bring us to this point. We honor the contributions of African-Americans since our country’s beginning, and we recommit to reaching for a day when no person is judged by anything but the content of their character.” Mindful of the extreme tribulations endured by countless people of color throughout the world, we too ought to beam with pride at the accomplishments of black people today. If we fail to celebrate our accomplishments, we will be guilty of taking for granted the work of those who came before us.
Join me in applauding KABA for its work in honor of our nation’s motto of “country above self.”
KABA IS BLACK HISTORY