Bahamian American Association Celebrates 100 Years In New York

Wednesday 12th, September 2012 / 22:32 Published by


President William R. Dames of The Bahamas American Association Incorporated (BAAI), New York, formerly The Nassau Bahamas Association, New York, has announced plans for the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Association.  The highlight of the 100th Anniversary celebrations will be a Gala Grand Ball, to be held this Saturday, 15 September 2012 at the famous Astoria World Manor, Astoria, New York.

The BAAI, a fraternal Bahamas American Association, is proud to be the successor of the Nassau Bahamas Association, one of the oldest fraternal associations in the State of New York. The Association was founded 17 September 1912 by 10 Bahamian men, who had made the United States their new home. The Founders of the Association trace their roots to many of the islands of The Bahamas, including New Providence, Andros, Abaco, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island. In 1922, Bahamian women took their place as members of the Association.

Mr. Dames said that the BAAI and its predecessor Nassau Bahamas Association, Inc. is deeply appreciative for the cooperation and support it has received from the Bahamas Government over the years, including through the Consulate General of The Bahamas at New York and its successive Consuls Generals. He said that the Executive and Membership of the BAAI, Bahamians, Bahamian-Americans, friends and supporters all are looking forward to welcoming high-level Members of The Bahamas Government to the Gala Grand Ball in New York. The Bahamian-American Community is delighted that the Honourable Frederick A. Mitchell, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration will deliver the keynote address at the Gala.  Ms. Lillian Sealey of Nassau will also perform at the Gala.

On the occasion of the Gala Grand Ball, the BAAI will recognise a number of Bahamian and Bahamian Americans to express appreciation to them for their contribution to the growth and development of the Association over the years. The Awardees are A. Missouri Sherman-Peter, first Consul General of The Bahamas at New York, Rev. Dr. Yvonne Collie-Pendleton, J. Machelle Sweeting, Esq., Dorea Rolle, Martin Burrows, Adrian Whylly, Johnny Kemp and the Bahamian American Association of Pennsylvania.

Rev. Dr. Kris F. Erskine, Pastor of Bethany Baptist Church will also host a Service of Thanksgiving at 11am on Sunday, September 16th, 2012 which is located at 303 West 153rd Street, New York, New York, 10039.

The Nassau Bahamas Association was established to be a centre for friendship, fellowship, camaraderie and community for Bahamians that in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, left home for New York in pursuit of economic and other opportunities for themselves and their families. The Association’s primary objective was to help Bahamians and their families adjust to a complex metropolis such as New York, as they took up new jobs and sought to reestablish themselves in their new home. Importantly, the Association provided a meeting place for all Bahamians and their families.

The Association was incorporated in New York State 6 July 1939 and in 1946, purchased its building at 211 West 137th Street, in historic Harlem, New York City. Until today, the building serves as the Association’s Headquarters. Its Juvenile Branch, an earlier outgrowth of the Association, was to see many of its members rise to well-placed positions in the Harlem Community and beyond.

From the 1950s onwards, the Association welcomed and supported many young Bahamians pursuing university studies in the New York area, including through The Bahamas Student Association (BSA), which was established in 1959. The late Mr. Earnest Strachan, first President of the BSA, went on to become a staff member of the United Nations, and following the 1973 Independence of The Bahamas, the Chief of Protocol in the Ministry of External Affairs.

Other members of the BSA returned to The Bahamas to make significant contributions towards building a progressive Bahamas. Prominent among these are Sir William Allen, Former Governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas and former Minister of Finance, and P. Anthony White, Journalist.

In this year in which The Bahamas celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, special mention must be made of the late Dame Doris Johnson who the Association supported during her doctoral studies in New York, including through its support for the BSA. Dame Doris is celebrated for her leadership role in the Women’s Suffrage Movement of The Bahamas, and as the first female to serve in The Bahamas Government of the day.

Over the years, the Association has been progressively expanded to include the descendents of Bahamians and their families and the extension of Honorary Membership to non-Bahamians. The name of the Association, Inc was consequently changed from the Nassau Bahamas Association to the Bahamas American Association, Inc to reflect these new realities, and to make the organisation representative of the Bahamian Diaspora in the United States of America. This most significant development in the recent history of the Association took place on 23 September 2002, when the BAAI was incorporated as a non-profit organisation.

The BAAI has a strong historical legacy, and according to Mr. Dames, is looking forward to a bright and progressive future. On behalf of the BAAI, Mr. Dames extended a cordial invitation to all Bahamians and those of Bahamian descent, friends and supporters to join in the 100th Anniversary Celebrations.

Mr. Dames said that he especially encourages those that have been associated with the Nassau Bahamas Association and the BAAI over the years, including those in The Bahamas, to attend the Gala Grand Ball in New York. For further information, please contact Ms Carolyn L. Young-Miller, Treasurer, BAAI at telephone 1 (646) 509-2222 or Mr. William R. Dames at 1 (917) 207-3058.


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