New York Garifuna group honors a compatriot

The following article was written by Nelson A. King and published in Caribbean Life on Nov. 9, 2011.

The board of directors of the Bronx, N.Y.-based Garifuna Coalition, U.S.A, say they will honor Erline Williams-King, a former aide to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines New York Consul General, at its “Fourth Annual Yellow, White, Black Garifuna Settlement Day 2011” fundraising gala on Nov. 19.

Williams-King will be recognized for her “support of the renaissance of the Garifuna Heritage and Culture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, at The Eastwood Manor, 3371 Eastchester Rd., the Bronx.

The coalition said that although Williams-King was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (‘Yurumein,’ the ancestral homeland of the Garifuna people), she can be “classified as a Caribbean woman, having lived in Carriacou, Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nevis and her homeland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Ms. Williams-King, a social worker by profession, has always been involved in community service and is very passionate about the welfare of her fellow brothers and sisters,” it said. “She has been a high school teacher, guidance counselor and mentor to many.

“Her record of humanitarian achievements is best highlighted by her involvement in many organizations and committees,” it added, stating that Williams-King, who was a founding member of Hearts and Hands for Nevis, Inc., worked “assiduously” to ensure that the goals and objectives of the organization were maintained.

Photo: Courtesy Bajun Sun Online.

Williams-King, who retired from her substantive position at the consulate, at the end of August, is also a very active member of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean-American Renal Failure Relief Fund Steering Committee, where she performs the duties of secretary.

This committee assists Vincentians who come to the United States seeking medical attention for renal failure.

Williams-King – the youngest and last daughter of the late, former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Governor General Henry Williams – is also a vibrant member of the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO)

“Ms. Williams-King has a penchant for all things cultural, and she is always willing to learn about the many cultural practices of different countries and peoples,” the Garifuna Coalition said.

“She enjoys the dancing, singing and cuisine of the various countries, and never misses an opportunity to be involved and to learn,” it added.

The group said Williams-King first became aware of the Garifunas when she migrated to the United States, and has since embraced their culture.

Williams-King enjoys singing and has been featured in many concerts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica, Barbados and the United States.

She is currently a member of The Roy Prescod Chorale and her church choir, at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, both in Brooklyn.

“The Garifuna Coalition Inc. is an organization that I have always held in high esteem,” Williams-King told Caribbean Life.

“When I became aware of its existence, and after attending some of their functions, I realized that they were a people with a mission. I was totally fascinated with their commitment and how resolute they were to ensure that they kept their culture alive, in their language, cuisine and practices, from the elders to the youth,” she added.

“To be honored by this organization, for which I have the greatest respect and admiration, is truly humbling,” Williams-King continued.

“I deem it a privilege to be associated with this organization and to be even considered for this recognition,” she said.

In recent years, the local Garifuna group, COSAGO and former U.S. Ambassador Ellsworth John were among St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ groups and individuals honored by the Garifuna Coalition, U.S.A. Inc.

For original report: New York Garifuna group honors a compatriot • Caribbean Life.

Author: Ken Archer

I am an ethnomusicologist, who obtained my doctoral degree at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. My areas of interests include the musical, ritual, and celebratory traditions of the circum-Caribbean and the African Diaspora. I worked as a lecturer at the Columbus and Marion Campuses of the Ohio State University, where I taught classes in World Music, Rock and Roll/American Popular Music, Western Art Music, and directed the OSU Steel Pan ensemble.