Male Lifetime Category named after Samuel Selvon. Trinidadian by birth, Selvon lived in England where he launched his writing career. He went on to become one of the outstanding Caribbean writers of this century, ranking alongside V.S. Naipaul, Kamau Brathwaite, George Lamming and Derek Walcott. Selvon spent the latter years of his life in Canada where he subsequently died.
Female Lifetime Category after Dame Nita Barrow. This Barbadian super woman is arguably the most acclaimed Caribbean woman of this century. International civil servant, regional Caribbean pioneer in politics and a role model for today's generation of female politicians, Dame Barrow died in office as governor-general of her homeland.
Male Personality of the Year after Arthur Schomberg. Puerto Rican by birth, Schomberg made a name for himself as an African cultural anthropologist. An avid collector of African cultural and historical artifacts, he donated his vast collection of to the New York Public Library. That collection became the core of the historical treasures now on display at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, appropriately named after the man who catalyzed its establishment.
Female Personality of the Year after Kowsilla. A humble Guyanese sugar worker during the colonial days, Kowsilla participated in a strike in the 1940s, joining her fellow workers in seeking better working benefits. The strike was greeted with police brutality by the colonial authorities and the British Transnational, Bookers, then owners of almost the entire sugar industry. Striking workers scattered in the wake of police advance. But the defiant Kowsilla remained with a few others on a bridge that was being approached by a tractor. She was run over - cold bloodedly murdered - and immediately became a workers' heroine.
Sports Achievement after Joe Gaetjens. Like Kowsilla, Gaetjens is one of the lesser known Caribbean heroes. While a student in the 1940's, this Haitian was selected, under lax eligibility rules, to represent the USA in the World Cup Soccer competition. Team USA lost its first three matches by margins of seven or more goals. Its final match was against the then emperor of world soccer - England. Incredibly Gaetjens scored the only goal in the match and led the US to the biggest upset ever in World Cup Soccer.
But this US Hall of Famer is also remembered for the fact that, as he lent his ability to the poor youth of Haiti, coaching soccer, he was brutally murdered by the regime of Papa Doc Duvalier. The regime could not get at Joe's family which actively opposed the Duvaliers from overseas safety. So the innocent Joe, who was not at all politically active, was made to pay the ultimate price.
Business Achievement after Mateo Hernandez. Yet another of the lesser known heroes, Mateo Hernandez was a Dominican immigrant who became a successful businessman in New York City - today his family owns a string of Mets Supermarket. But what made Mateo stand out was his sincere humanitarianism which touched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people. Besides always providing foodstuffs and other necessities to those who could not afford, Mateo set up an account at a drugstore and anyone who could not afford to pay for needed medicines were sent to this drug store where their requirements were taken care of. The same thing was done for those who could not afford to pay for family funerals. In both cases Mateo Hernandez picked up the tabs. And he did so without any fanfare.
Organization Achievement after Marcus Garvey. This Jamaican who created waves as an American is a household name in this country. Civil rights activist, scholar, thinker, writer, indeed a man of many sides, Garvey is one of the few who paved the way for the likes of Martin Luther King. But perhaps his single most remembered striving was the concept of Pan-Africanism which he tirelessly championed. Today Garvey is a must in any course that has to do with American History.
Youth Achievement after Malcolm X. Of Trinidadian birth, Malcolm X too is considered one of the champions of the American civil rights struggle. Controversial than most, he started his activism young and was always a model for the youth. Even today, his words and achievements fire the young more than any other segment of society. Nowadays he is very much an American icon thanks to the film, Malcolm X, based on his life and to the US postal stamp commemorating his life and works.
The Cheddi Jagan Award is given to individuals/organizations who have been friends of the Caribbean or of Caribbean peoples. Like Garvey, Jagan was also a man of many sides - politician, statesman, thinker, writer, lecturer and revolutionary. Considered one of the pioneers of the anti-colonial revolution, Dr. Jagan is acclaimed as the architect of Guyana's independence. But his greater legacy lies is the way he related to people, especially the working class and the underprivileged. To them he was always a teacher, friend, and champion. In fact he is credited with pioneering grass roots politics in the Caribbean and was one politician who went anywhere without an escort of guards.
The Toussaint L'Ouverture Award is given to an individual/institution that champions people's welfare - human or civil rights, political or economic empowerment, social mobility or cultural enhancement.
Pioneer of the anti-slavery/anti-colonial revolution long before either became in vogue, Toussaint led an army of ex-slaves to defeat the mighty French Empire and establish the first republic in the Americas. This mighty ex-slave who rose to strike the first blow against colonialism is imprinted in the annals of freedom fighters.
The Rudy Narine Award is given to individuals whose achievements help to build bridges among people and who help to build communities by their personal actions and contributions. Rudy Narine, an English lawyer of Guyanese birth, is considered England's equivalent of Martin Luther King. But not only did he champion the civil rights struggle in England, he also helped to establish many precedents in English law by the causes and individuals he defended. And thus was he able to help white England come closer to non-white England.
The Learie Constantine Award is given to an outstanding sports personality who also displays the nobler attributes of sportsmanship. Sir/Lord Learie Constantine was a Trinidad born West Indian cricketer whose career epitomized good sportsmanship and who actively championed such qualities.
Of course he later went on to make a name for himself as a lawyer in England and was eventually made a member of the House of Lords.
The Jose Marti Award given to an individual/institution who has used culture to better people's lives any which way. One of the greatest writer to emerge out of the Americas, Jose Marti's writings fired the Cuban War of Independence against Spanish colonialism. Now a Cuban national hero, Marti stands as pre-eminent revolutionary and a man who used the written word for the noblest of causes - the struggle for freedom.
The Bob Marley Spirit of the Caribbean Award is given to a towering personality who portrays the qualities that Marley epitomized - vision, social consciousness, a desire to make the world a better place and achievements that impact globally. Marley, of course, is a household name among Caribbeans and an icon in the world of music - a man whose music has impacted on every subsequent genre. He was admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - one of the few non-Americans to have this honor and certainly the only person of Caribbean heritage.