The great Jamaican Olympian Herbert Henry (Herb) McKenley made a major impact in the track and field world — winning individual silver medals in the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games and remaining the only runner to reach the 100 meter, 200 meter and 400 meter Olympic finals.
But the long and impressive list of McKenley’s career highlights touted on the Jamaica Information Service’s “Famous Jamaicans” Web pages does not mention his pivotal role in bringing Jamaican high school athletes to the Penn Relays track meet — and exposing thousands of athletes to the U.S. and the world.
Years after his hey days in the 1940s, which included running on a half-dozen winning relays for the University of Illinois at Philadelphia’s Penn Relays, McKenely (then as president of Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association) suggested in 1963 that Jamaica’s Kingston College High School enter the Philadelphia competition, according a 2014 Philly.com interview with Donovan Davis, the Kingston College coach at the time.
The sole scholastic Jamaican team competing, the boys of Kingston College, came in 1964 and won the 4×100 meter relay in meet record time. They also won the race in 1965.
McKenley, who died on 2007, lived to see one visiting Jamaican team grow into scores of schools flocking go the Penn Relays. This year, a cavalcade of boys and girls from 36 teams Jamaica high schools — many who took part in the highly-competitive ISSA/Grace Kennedy Boys and Girls Championships earlier this month — are among the 2017 participating squads at Penn.
And there are also teams from Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands following the path set by Jamaican teams.
The 2017 Penn Relays take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field. For information and tickets on the Penn Relays, visit www.thepennrelays.com
FIGHT FOR HAITIANS’ STATUS
A united call for the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti will be made from the steps of City Hall tomorrow at 1 p.m. by Council Member Mathieu Eugene (D-Brooklyn), the Haitian-American Council for Unity and Empowerment, Haitian Solidarity Inc., elected officials, community leaders and local organizations.
First granted after the 2010 earthquake, TPS status for Haiti, after several extensions, is due to expire on July 22. TPS — granted for nationals of countries affected by environmental disasters, ongoing armed conflicts and other circumstances — allows temporary stays in the U.S.
USA Today recently reported that acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services James McCament, in a letter, stated that conditions in Haiti have improved enough to end “temporary protected status” for Haitians.
Last December, the City Council voted in favor of a Eugene-sponsored bill to extend the Haiti TPS. Last month, the council member started a petition to get public support for the extension of TPS. The petition can be signed at www.haititpsrenewal.com.
READY FOR JAMAICA’S 55th ANNIVERSARY
Under the theme “Celebrating Jamaicans at Home and Abroad,” the Caribbean nation of Jamaica will mark its 55th independence anniversary this year with a series of special events, including the Jamaica 55 Biennial Diaspora Conference July 23 to 26.
Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, will announce anniversary activities at a launch event on Friday in Philadelphia, according to Jamaica Consul General Trudy Deans in New York.
On Tuesday evening at the Jamaica Consulate in Manhattan, Kamina Johnson-Smith, Jamaica Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade host a kickoff for the conference, held in the theme, “Partnering for Growth.” For information, call the Jamaica at (212) 935-9000.
EARTH DAY AND THE CARIBBEAN
Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, penned a 2017 Earth Day message from the regional organization, titled “Environmental and Climate Literacy – The Caribbean is Taking Action.”
As the world pauses to celebrate Earth Day today, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is pleased to declare its support for actions that make a difference.
It is no secret that the very foundation of Caribbean tourism is our unparalleled natural environment; one that is rich in biodiversity, is virtually unpolluted, boasts landscapes that draw visitors from across the globe, and sustains life and livelihood. In the Caribbean we have a sacred duty to protect these assets by insisting on the development and adoption of sustainable tourism practices, while responsibly sharing our natural treasures with travellers to our shores.
As the Caribbean’s tourism development agency whose purpose is: Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean, the CTO is intimately attuned with the need to respect our earth. It is our belief that there will always be conflict between respect for our planet and the desire to profit from invaluable natural assets that we possess. Moreover, we must recognize that destroying our planet in pursuit of economic growth is an existential threat to both present and future generations.
It is for this very reason that the CTO strives to position the Caribbean as a truly sustainable tourism region — a region that leads the global response to climate change by pursuing carbon neutrality, one that actively manages its land, water, and energy resources and decisively employs technologies that drive resource efficiencies across its tourism supply chains. CTO will also continue to provide the relevant authorities with the tools and data necessary to activate tourism policies and regulations that serve the best interest of the region, while advocating for more responsible behaviour from the larger nations around the world.
We are pleased that Earth Day 2017 focuses on Environmental and Climate Literacy, as we have been developing our Caribbean Tourism Climatic Bulletin in partnership with our colleagues at the Caribbean Institute for Metrology and Hydrology (CIMH). Once finalized, this bulletin will be a guiding tool for tourism policymakers and businesses to better understand how climate change will impact their livelihoods, and how they can adapt for success while contributing to a better state of affairs.
When seeking to protect our planet, one of the greatest challenges is to enlist all citizens to join the effort. The Caribbean Tourism Organization, through its trained professionals and in conjunction with global and regional partners, is pleased to provide guidance and information on how the actions of any individual can be an effective part of the solution. Happy Earth Day 2017.
LOVER’S ROCK DOCUMENTARY
“The Story of Lovers Rock,” a 2011 Menelik Shabazz documentary about the popular and seductive sub genre of reggae music, will be screened Saturday in Manhattan as part of the African Diaspora International Film Festival.
The screening will be held at Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 W. 120th St., at 1 p.m. For information, call (212) 864-1760, send email to email@example.com and visit www.nyadiff.org.
TEARS FOR HIGH JUMPER GERMAINE MASON
Condolences poured in last week for Olympic medal-winning track and field athlete Germaine Mason, who died Thursday in a motorcycle accident on April 20 in Jamaica, according to the Associated Press.
Mason apparently lost control of his Honda motorcycle before dawn in St. Andrew Parish, the Jamaica Constabulary Force said in a statement. The 34-year-old athlete died later at a local hospital. Mason was born in Jamaica but represented Britain in the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing and won a silver medal in the high jump.
Last week, British Athletics tweeted that “On first night of the #WorldRelays, @BritAthletics teams will wear black ribbons on their vests in memory of British athlete Germaine Mason.” The two-day 2017 IAAF World Relays began yesterday in the Bahamas.
“Germaine was an outstanding athlete and a truly lovely man,” said senior high jump coach Fuzz Caan of British Athletics. “He had a wry sense of humor and was a pleasure to be around. He was a great ambassador of British high jumping.”
The Gleaner newspaper in Jamaica reported on its website that several other athletes, including sprinter Usain Bolt, turned up at the accident scene immediately after crash, which occurred around 4:30 a.m.
“Usain Bolt was part of the group that came by and he was very, very emotional, and still is,” Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen told the BBC.
Bolt’s agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Ewan Scott, records director at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, told The Associated Press that the island’s governing body for track and field has “not heard of any of our athletes being part of this incident.”
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