H. Carl McCall and Lloyd Williams are among recipients of honorary doctorates from the University of the West Indies
Herb Boyd | 11/22/2018, midnight
With so much trouble in the world, as Bob Marley once sang, a lot of good things slip by that deserve wider attention and recognition. Among such moments is the recent celebration at the University of the West Indies, where nine people of distinction, including a few of whom are well-known here in the greater New York area, were selected to receive honorary degrees. This process involved the receipt of hundreds of highly profiled recommendations from around the world. (UWI is currently listed among the top 5 percent of outstanding educational institutions worldwide.)
Harlemites in particular were proud to learn that H. Carl McCall and Lloyd Williams were saluted, along with Grace Jones, the actress and model, and pianist and composer Montgomery “Monty” Alexander.
Williams, president and CEO of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, received his honorary doctorate of law degree in the field of leadership, which he has provided unwaveringly for more than a generation. When asked about the degree conferred on him and being called “Dr. Williams,” he quickly put a halt to that.
“You can dispense with the doctor stuff, although I am deeply grateful for the honor and will keep it among my most cherished moments,” he said.
This distinction will stand along with his widely heralded role as a co-founder and chair of Harlem Week, which continues to grow exponentially. Health care, housing and commitment to the progress and preservation of numerous political and cultural institutions are always on his busy agenda.
McCall’s honorary doctorate of law degree is for his leadership in the realm of public service, and residents in New York don’t have to be reminded of his distinguished career in politics, education and civil rights. Chief among these endeavors is his current role as chair of the board of trustees of the State University of New York. Receiving this honor dovetails neatly with his position as co-chair of the SUNY UWI, Centre for Leadership and Sustainable Development, based in New York. In this capacity, he shares duties with Sir Hilary Beckles, vice chancellor of the UWI.
Pianist Alexander continues to be a most exuberant stylist, which was approvingly received during his tribute performance to the late Randy Weston at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in September. In 2019, the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival in Ashton, Md. will mark its 10th anniversary, where Alexander, as usual, will be there to perform. Alexander was pleased to note that Harlem Week and the Harlem Jazz & Music Festival will join with him in 2019 at his 10th anniversary “to build up the heat and kick up a storm,” he related.
Jones is an iconic performer who has excelled as a model, actress, singer, composer and human rights activist. When she isn’t onstage or in front of a camera, Jones finds time to express her interest in HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and treatment, often hosting events by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Foundation for AIDS Research that has raised millions of dollars for these causes.
We are all proud of Drs. Jones, McCall, Montgomery and Williams for being recipients of such a prestigious international recognition.