Good morning esteemed members of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity,
First and foremost, I’d like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Willis Lonzer III, General President, Mr. Sean McCaskill, Executive Director, Mr. Terrence Byerson, Director of Membership, Dr. Everette Ward, Immediate Past General President, and Mr. Van Strickland, Director of General Conventions. Your leadership and dedication to the fraternity and its mission are truly commendable.
On behalf of the Bahamian government, I am honored and grateful for the invitation to speak at this distinguished gathering, as you pave the way forward for the Fraternity on all levels.
I would like to extend special recognition and commendation to our Bahamian fraternity members. Their dedication to social outreach and community work has indeed left an indelible mark.
Under the capable leadership of Mr. Ricardo Deveaux, initiatives such as the ‘Bahamas Primary School Student of The Year’ have provided over 2 million dollars in scholarships. Those scholarships aren’t just checks; they are lifelines, promises, and affirmations that we believe in them.
The Convocation Awards, ‘Think College,’ and ‘Think HBCU’ have provided an impressive sum of over 2.5 million dollars in scholarships for high school students.
These initiatives are but a testament to the potential and capabilities of the fraternity when united for a cause.
Today, amidst our successes, my heart carries a heavy weight. The stories of our young men — lost, wandering, ensnared by circumstances like crime and violence — keep me awake at night. Each one represents a dream deferred, a potential untapped. They are our sons, our friends, the future we might never get to see. This is our call to arms. We must rise, united in purpose, to bring them back from the brink. We owe it to them and to ourselves.
Let’s speak about the future, about opportunities, and about dreams. I’ve heard talks about The Bahamas potentially hosting the Fraternity’s 2025 General Convention. Beyond the turquoise waters and golden sands, we offer a deep, shared history and a promise of unity. Imagine the powerful statement we would make by coming together here. Think about the young men we just spoke of — the difference it would make for them to see thousands gathered, united in purpose, here on our shores.
Our shared history and cultural bonds have always emphasized the close-knit connections between the Bahamian people and our African-American brethren. These ties are steeped in a history of struggle, perseverance, shared values, and common goals.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity stands as a testament to these connections. Our collaborations hold immense potential, with benefits flowing both ways – to the Bahamian people and to every member of this fraternity.
Imagine the synergy of our combined efforts – the knowledge exchange, cultural understanding, and sheer drive to better our communities.
As we forge ahead, let us explore more avenues for collaboration, be it in education, social initiatives, or cultural programs.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a revered member of our fraternity, once found solace and inspiration in Bimini. By coming here, we wouldn’t just be hosting a convention; we’d be retracing the steps of a legend, revisiting a pivotal point in our shared history.
Philadelphia and Baltimore, they stand as landmarks of culture and history. But in The Bahamas, we offer a heart-to-heart, a journey into the soul of our shared heritage, and a unique chance to mold the future.
As you deliberate on our bid, remember that it’s more than just a proposal. It’s an invitation — to come home, to reconnect, and to inspire change.
In closing, I wish everyone here a productive and successful board meeting. As you deliberate on your national focus areas and strategize on addressing social issues, remember that the Bahamian government stands resolute in its commitment to work with esteemed groups like Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Together, we can, and will, achieve remarkable feats for our communities and the generations to come.
Thank you and may our collaborations be ever fruitful.