By Andrea Daley
New York: On Saturday, August 17, actress, singer and activist, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who has flown the flag of Jamaica high for decades, will serve as mistress of ceremonies at Jamaica’s 51st anniversary of independence ball. The event will be held at the New York Hilton Hotel. This marquee event is the highlight of social activities in the Jamaican community and serves to bring together supporters of Jamaica who lead the charge to expand the channels of financial contribution to the island.
“I was so excited when I got the invitation to host the Jamaica Independence Ball in New York,” Ralph said. “I remember so clearly, Jamaica’s first independence. My brother Stanley and I were chosen from a group of children in Mandeville to participate in a dance and song to perform for Princess Margaret when she came to visit the island. I will never forget that Independence Day as long as I live”
Ralph’s love and support for Jamaica is unquestioned. She currently serves as the spokeswoman for the country’s national HIV response program, a role she relishes. Ralph is the founder of the Diva Foundation, (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed), a non-profit organization created in memory of the many friends she has lost to HIV/AIDS. This international effort focuses on raising awareness and funding on behalf of millions worldwide who suffer from the disease. Ralph has given back to Jamaica through the arts as well. One such standout is the Jamerican Film & Music Film Festival, which she successfully organized for a number of years, attracting the influential and powerful in the entertainment industry to the shores of Jamaica. The festival is credited with producing five SHOWTIME filmmaker finalists over its five-year tenure.
“I love celebrating the independence of our great island nation. I’m also looking forward to the fact that my mom, Ivy Ralph, OD, has whipped up another gorgeous gown for me to wear for the evening. I love the fact that Jamaica has a prime minister who represents a strong figure for the rest of the world,” Ralph stated. “I love the fact that we are battling with things like human rights and as difficult as it is we are trying to bring it to the forefront of our society. I just love the fact that we’re a small nation trying to make the best of it and move forward in a positive light. I guess I’ve said all of that to say, I love Jamaica. I really love Jamaica.”
The 21-year-old annual ball has received strong support from the community. Several prominent business enterprises with Jamaicans in positions of leadership are sponsors of this year’s ball. For more information, visit http://www.jicfi.org.–OnPointPress.net.