Atlanta to get Jamaican Museum and Cultural Center

Fundraising is underway for the Jamaican Museum and Cultural Center to be located in Atlanta, Georgia.  These funds are needed for the acquisition and maintenance of the physical museum and to accommodate cultural programs, meeting space, social events, and other activities by Jamaicans and the wider community in the diaspora.

The museum and cultural center will be located in metro Atlanta, a city with a rich civil rights legacy; the principal trade and transportation center for the Southeastern United States; a mecca for immigrants from all over the Caribbean and African diaspora; a major higher educational center; and home to more than 25 Fortune 500 and 1000 corporations and more than 5 of the top 20 national nonprofit organizations.

The Jamaican Museum and Cultural Center, Inc. (JMCC) a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, was established in Atlanta, GA in 2019, by a group of Jamaicans with a goal of documenting and showcasing the outsized international contributions and influence of Jamaican culture and history.

The volunteer board of directors is led by Dr. Apollone Reid. Other board members are Raymond Brooks, Dr. D. Terrence Foster, Dr. Clover Hall, Christine Marzouca, Dr. David Panton, Winnie Starke, Basil Watson, O.D,  and Carol Williams.

The board is exploring opportunities for partnerships, collaborations, funding, in-kind and other support with philanthropic organizations and individuals; academic institutions; Jamaican organizations in metro Atlanta and the diaspora, the Jamaican government, cultural institutions and corporations; the City of Atlanta; and other entities.

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International Festival Song Competition Finals Set

Twelve finalists vie for the US$8,000 top prize in the USA-based Jamaica International Independence Festival Song Competition (JIIFSC).

There are ten finalists from the United States, one from Canada and one from Germany, they are:

Ragga Lox – “Reggae Island”

Andrew Clarke – “I Believe”

Lavie Lujah – “Certified Yardie”

Tarick – “Feel Dah Riddim”

Lemi – “Jamerican”

Ras Fraser – “Nuh Weh Like Yard”

King I Noah – “Sweet Sweet Jamaica”

Desmond – “Jamaicans Be Like”

Dutch Rocka – “Zoom Festival 59”

Anthony Mattal – “Paradise”

Phil Watkis – “Hustlers Anthem”

Keisha Dickenson – “Promise Land”

Listen to the finalists at:

Atlanta-Jamaican Garfield McCook was inspired to create the competition by a desire to provide overseas Jamaicans, who may not be eligible for local events in Jamaica, with more opportunities to participate in cultural events.

“The aim of this competition is to provide Jamaican artistes residing overseas, who still have a love for the culture and the music, with a platform that allows them to showcase their talents. Part proceeds from any profits received will go towards the enhancement of the cultural activities in Jamaica,” he stated.

Top participants can expect grand incentives, with the first, second and third prizes being US $8,000, US $4,000 and US $1,000 respectively. The top 5 will be announced on July 2, while the top 3 will be revealed at the finals on July 31, which will be broadcasted virtually from 7pm to 10pm EST. There will be a limited live audience, including guest appearances, judges and promoters, at the venue, which is Caribbean Life TV Studios (CLTV Studios) in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

All finalists will be posted on the JIIFSC social media platforms and songs uploaded to YouTube. Keep up with the competition on Instagram and Twitter, @jiifsc, and Facebook,

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The Hero of Fern Gully and other Jamaican Stories – Glen Laman and Basil Kong collaborate on new book

Foreword by Debra Ehrhardt:

Basil Kong and Glen Laman have written 15 charming stories that capture the essence of several typical Jamaican situations in their memorable book, The Hero of Fern Gully and Other Jamaican Short Stories.

Jamaica is an island known for friendly and hospitable people, rum, reggae, beautiful white sand beaches, and radiant sunshine. Numerous luminaries have made an impact on the world stage. These include Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals, Grace Jones, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, Mary Seacole and Usain Bolt, but still left to be told are the enchanting vault of stories around the life of the ordinary Jamaican man, woman, and child.

The book delivers a fascinating glimpse of another side of Jamaican island life. You will be transported to historic Fern Gully, in the parish of St. Ann, and the leafy, meandering hills that shoulder Lovers Leap in Southfield, St. Elizabeth. You will celebrate Christmas in the rustic countryside of Woodside: feel Mattie’s struggles in her quest to build her dream home, be drawn to the treats, the delights of Miss Bailey’s Cold Supper Shop, and see tourists through the eyes of an innkeeper.

Adults and teens will enjoy reading this treasure trove of stories celebrating ordinary happenings around ordinary people with an extraordinary legacy.

I am highly recommending this great read where you will discover, or rediscover, what life is like where the “sun shines daily on the mountain top” and “the ackee, rice n’ saltfish nice so till” as these island people pursue “one love” and try to “feel alright.” Pull up yu chair, cock up yu foot and make space to experience precious, simple, but very colourful memories.

—- Debra Ehrhardt
Debra Ehrhardt is an award-winning actress and playwright.
She is best known for the highly acclaimed play
and soon to be motion picture, Jamaica Farewell

To purchase click here



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The Jamaica International Independence Festival Song Competition (JIIFSC)

Reprinted from the KC Times

Garfield McCook

A festival song competition for Jamaicans in the Diaspora was launched on December 18, 2020 by Atlanta KC Old Boy Garfield (Gary) McCook.

It employs a five Judge Panel, and it will be a virtual affair. The competition’s motto is, “Loving You From Afar.”

The competition’s theme song, GIMME JAMAICA has been released on all platforms.

McCook feels that the Jamaican Diaspora has a wealth of talent to share and this competition will help to expose that talent.

The Premiere Event will be on July 31st 2021.

Thirty-four years ago, McCook left Jamaica to seek opportunities in the USA. His experience and development since has been a great one. He got married, completed a degree, and now has a beautiful family.

He is a Real Estate Broker/Owner of Georgia Dream Homes/New York Dream Homes Realty, licensed in Georgia and New York. He and his wife own a Personal Care Home, which they view as a way of giving back to their community.

McCook was moved by Jamaica’s success in Rio to release his first song, “Rio was good to me” in 2017. This Song was a tribute to Usain Bolt on his accomplishment at the Rio Olympics.

He traveled to China to record his second song, “A Lang Time Missa Chin A Run Tings” was released in 2018. The motivation for this song, was on a visit to Jamaica travelling on the North South Highway built by the Chinese. As a young man growing up in Jamaica, He remembered the Chinese being a major factor the island’s commerce and now they were again dominating our transportation sector.

His third song, “CELLELLA” was released in 2019. Cell phones have consumed our lives, we cannot live without them, and the song accentuates this fact.

The fourth song, ”Gimme Jamaica”, released in 2020 is the theme song for the JIIFSC.

You may contact McCook by phone at 678-778-6335 or by mail, JIIFSC@GMAIL.COM.

Visit him on Facebook, Jamaica International Independence Festival Song Competition, and IG, JIIFSC.

The following link will provide more information.

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Former owner of the Starapple Grill in Atlanta ventures into Jamaican Transportation with ARYVVE Ridesharing Service

Ray Lee

Ray Lee, the former owner of the Starapple Grill in Atlanta, has embarked on a new venture in Jamaica with the formation of his new company ARYVVE Technologies LLC.

This is Jamaica’s first and only true rideshare company.

ARYVVE has developed a Transfer Facilitator platform which streamlines car and bus transfers across the island of Jamaica. Clients and residents will be able to move around the island in comfort and confidence by using certified and licensed operators.

Ray previously worked for Sandals Resorts as a business development manager. Prior to that he worked in hotel management and restaurant management. He was the owner of the Starapple Grill in Atlanta in the early 2000’s.

Customers can access this service by simply downloading the Arryvve app on their smart phones or going to the company’s website

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Everton Barrett former President of KCOBA Atlanta Passes on

We regret to announce the passing of former Atlantan, Everton Barrett. He was president of the Atlanta chapter of the Kingston College Old Boys Association for several years.

Loved and admired by many, he will be sorely missed.

Mabrouk, as he was affectionately known, had recently published his memoir…/former-atlantan-everton-mabrouk…/

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Voting in the Time of Covid-19

Patricia Thompson-Reid

Atlanta Jamaican Patricia Thompson-Reid recently wrote an article about voting in the time of covid-19 for the Atlanta Journal.  You can check it out at the link below:

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Dr. Karen Russell-Randall – Morehouse School of Medicine Faculty Gala Honoree

Dr. Karen Russell-Randall

Atlanta Jamaican Dr. Karen Russell-Randall is a Morehouse School of Medicine 2020 Faculty Gala Honoree.  Her award is for outstanding pharmacology Faculty member.

The faculty Gala gives students the opportunity to celebrate faculty members who have profoundly influenced their education.

Dr. Russell-Randall is a former co-president of the Atlanta chapter of the St. Hughs High School Alumnae Association.

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The National Diabetes Prevention Program Received the 2019 Hubert H. Humphrey Award

Dr. Megon Saunders

We are excited to acknowledge that the National DPP has received the prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Award for Service to America. This award recognizes employees for their contributions to the health, safety, and well-being of the nation. Congratulations to the National DPP team for all their hard work to prevent type 2 diabetes and improve the health of all Americans. The HHS Departmental Awards program recognizes individuals and groups throughout all levels of the Department whose leadership, exceptional job performance and customer service exceeded expectations.  These are the highest awards issued by the Department.

As a part of the National DPP team, Jamaican, Dr. Magon Saunders provides technical assistance, fiscal, and management support to state public health department grantees, national organizations such as the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Medical Association, and community-based organizations such as the Balm in Gilead, and Black Women’s Health Imperative.

Dr. Saunders’ work focuses on screening, testing, and referral services, bi-directional referral systems, engagement of community health workers, health equity, the social determinants of health and disease, and working with faith-based organizations. Dr. Saunders also serves as a subject matter expert to the National DPP Customer Service Center and responds to consumers and health care providers’ requests related to these topic areas.

Because of COVID-19, the 2019 Hubert H. Humphrey Awardees were recognized on May 6, 2020, in a virtual ceremony. Join us in congratulating Dr. Magon Saunders and other members of the National DPP team on this achievement.

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Former Atlantan Everton “Mabrouk” Barrett Publishes Memoir

Everton Barrett

Noted KC old boy and former Atlanta chapter President, Everton “Mabrouk” Barrett,  has published his long awaited memoir which documents his life experiences in the USA.

Mabrouk migrated to the USA in December 1971 and attended Brooklyn College and the University of New Haven, CT. He has had impressive successes as both a consulting technical software engineer and technical manager for a number of Fortune 500 corporations. Most notably he was a senior technical manager for IBM, Chrysler and Blue Cross of Georgia.

His last consulting contract before retirement was with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which he jokingly describes as the Petri dish of viruses; his last big fight was the Ebola virus. As a software engineer his job was to make the various CDC systems available to staff worldwide, ensure software solutions were created and deployed for epidemiologists and scientists in hot spots globally so they could effectively fight the latest virus or epidemic.

Mabrouk attended Kingston College from September 1966 to June 1971 where he had fond memories of performing unsanctioned chemistry experiments in the rear of the chemistry lab which resulted in him going home many evenings with acid holes burnt in his khakis. His mother was a little disturbed by this and made inquiries to the Deputy Headmaster and a later incident resulted in him being labeled a ‘mad scientist’ and subsequently banned from the chemistry lab.

Mabrouk’s challenging experiences after coming to the US at age 17 provides a virtual road map for youngsters who may immigrate to the United states and find themselves in turmoil as to the choices to make and roads to take in navigating a successful journey. While he does not advocate that all young men choose his route, he believes he can help to illuminate the American quagmire and how not to fall in the potholes. He wishes you happy reading and hope s it does something for the soul.

Order copies at:

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