Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller received a welcome from the city during a reception at the Pyramid Club in Center City on Friday, April 27.
Attendees consisted of foreign dignitaries and prominent Philadelphians including: Stanley Straughter of the Mayor’s Commission of African-Caribbean Affairs; City Councilman David Oh; and former Mayor W. Wilson Goode.
“Our contribution belies the size of the population of Jamaica,” said Miller during her speech to the crowd of well-wishers. “Anywhere in the world you go, you will find Jamaicans making a valuable contribution.”
Miller was honored with the Liberty Bell Award given to her by Straughter.
“I am here on behalf of Mayor Michael Nutter to receive the prime minister and to give her the highest honor that anyone has ever received from the city of Philadelphia – the Liberty Bell,” he said
According to Straughter, the reception was a great opportunity to meet the prime minister and to hear her aspirations for Jamaica.
Although he couldn’t attend, Karen Stokes of the governor’s office read a statement written by Gov. Tom Corbett.
“As governor of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I am delighted to welcome her Excellency, Portia Simpson Miller, prime minster of Jamaica,” read the governor’s statement. “The Jamaican people, their culture and sport, hold a unique spot in the history of Pennsylvania.”
Afterward, guests flocked to introduce themselves and have photos with Miller
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence from British colonialism, a fact referred to repeatedly during the program. Time Magazine also named Miller one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Miller sits on the Council of Women World Leaders and serves as Vice Chairperson of the Caribbean Forum of Ministers responsible for Decentralization among other accomplishments.
She told attendants about an incident, which occurred during her meeting of the Summit of the Americas in Columbia.
Miller had the opportunity to be one of only three women engaged in a discussion on education and development. During the summit, a moderator asked Miller how she hoped to compete against Ivy League universities and preparing her constituents for the world of work.
“I felt something rise up within me,” she said. “If we could produce the person that did the song of the millennium, Bob Marley, If we could give to the world Marcus Mosiah Garvey – those men and women who fought so hard for our freedom. What can we not do?”