Historic St. Kitts-Nevis flag-raising ceremony
Organizing committee with St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to the US, Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne (Back row - third
from left). Kylla Herbert
Caribbean Life, S BQ eptember 20-26, 2019 3
By Nelson A. King
Nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis were
in ecstasy last Friday as the country’s
flag was raised for the very first time at
Philadelphia City Hall.
Philadelphia resident Kylla Herbert
— whose late father, Nkem Tshombe,
hailed from St. Kitts and Nevis — told
Caribbean Life that she was honored to
lead the historic initiative.
“I felt great pride to have the 36th
Anniversary of Independence of St.
Kitts and Nevis acknowledged by the
City of Philadelphia and for it to be the
first event to start ‘Welcoming Week’ in
Philadelphia,” she said.
Herbert said “Welcoming Week”
brings together immigrants and USborn
community members “in a spirit
of unity and raises awareness of
the benefits of making communities
stronger by welcoming everyone.”
She said organizing the independence
flag-raising ceremony was special,
because of the memory of her late
father, who, on Sept. 12, would have
celebrated his 71st birthday. Her father
was the founder of the annual South
Jersey Caribbean Festival.
“For me, it was not only a celebration
of independence but a celebration of his
life,” Herbert said. “It was a reminder of
my father’s life and the impact that his
love of Caribbean arts and culture has
had on me.”
In addition, she said it was “heartwarming”
to join with nationals in the
Diaspora, descendants and friends “to
make this first independence flag-raising
for St. Kitts and Nevis a success.”
Herbert said several attendees took
off from work purposely to join the celebration.
“For some persons, it was support for
the nation; and, for others, it was to represent
their love and pride for St. Kitts
and Nevis,” she said.
Among the dignitaries attending
the ceremony was St. Kitts and Nevis
Ambassador to the US, Dr. Thelma Phillip
Herbert said Dr. Browne delivered
“informative remarks regarding the
country and spoke on this year’s theme
for independence, which is ‘Unify,
Transform, Enrich: Uplifting Communities
for Independence 36.’”
Other addresses were made by Miriam
Enriquez, of the Philadelphia City
Office of Immigrant Affairs; Stanley
Straughter, of the Mayor’s Commission
on African and Caribbean Affairs;
and Philadelphia Councilwoman Jannie
Straughter and Blackwell have been
“long-time advocates of Caribbean communities
for many years,” Herbert said.
She said Vincentian-born, Philadelphia
based community activist James
Cordice shared information about
Nevis-born, US founding father Alexander
Hamilton, the first secretary of the
In addition, Sheila Hess presented a
proclamation from Philadelphia Mayor
Jim Kenney, Herbert said.
She said Trinidadian Patrick Davis
played the steel pan; Carl Archibald,
a St. Kitts native, portrayed “the St.
Kitts folklore clown” and Vincentian
Leonard Joseph portrayed Hamilton.
St. Kitts and Nevis gained its political
independence from Great Britain
on Sept. 19, 1983.
“We chose to start our independence
celebrations here in Philadelphia
on Sept. 13,” Herbert said.
Besides Herbert and Cordice, the
organizing committee comprised:
Livingston Benjamin (Nevis); Keith
Morgan (St. Kitts); Denise Willoughby
(Camden, NJ); Vanetta Grant (Nevis);
and Teresa Browne Parrish (Nevis).
Teresa Browne-Parris, a native of
Nevis, who, for the past four years,
has been hosting an Emancipation
Day celebration service in Philadelphia
on the first Sunday in August,
said: “Having our flag raised in Philadelphia
complements this event, and
is a boost for our twin-island nation.
“It also helps in the promotion of
St. Kitts-Nevis as the ideal vacation
destination, if only to tour the historic
site of one the American founding
fathers, Sir Alexander Hamilton,”
Willoughby said the singing of the
national anthem of St. Kitts and
Nevis at Philadelphia City Hall was
“bone-chilling” and “soulful”, adding
that “the community of brotherly
love was captivated by every word of
the national anthem.”
Benjamin said he “felt privileged”
to stand beside Philadelphia’s City
officials “to raise and salute the St.
“Being a native of Nevis, I was honored,
grateful, and I was filled with
undeniable joy to have witnessed, as
well as be a part of, such a historicalmaking
event,” he said.
“The St. Kitts and Nevis flag-raising
ceremony was truly an event that
I will treasure for the rest of my life,”
Benjamin added. “Philadelphia, the
‘City of Brotherly Love,’ demonstrated
much love to St. Kitts and Nevis.”
St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to the US, Dr. Thelma Phillip-Browne addresses
the fl ag raising ceremony. Kylla Herbert