Special to South Florida Times

Miami Gardens — The Jamaican Diaspora Southern United States is undergoing a transition in its organization and leadership.Susan Lycett Davis, educator and cultural activist, was been elected as its newest advisory board member during  a recent Diaspora town hall meeting at Holy Family Episcopal Church, 18501 NW Seventh Ave., Miami Gardens.

Davis replaced Miami attorney Marlon A. Hill, who termed out after serving on the board for five years. Hill said that he will now “assume a different strategic role in the organization’s development.”

“We cannot build without leadership, raising funds and a marketing message. And that is where I am transitioning my focus,” Hill said.

The Diaspora was formed to galvanize Jamaican nationals, people of Jamaican descent and Jamaican organizations throughout the Southern United States for the benefit of their local communities and the development and support of Jamaica.

Davis, 48, who serves as a faculty member at Nova Southeastern University’s School of Education, said during an interview that although a lot is going on in the Southern region, people “are fragmented.”

“I want pull them together so we can take advantage of the resources we have. That would give us a lot of leverage,” she said.

People tend to reach out to peers within their age group, Davis said, adding that the youth are being forgotten. “I really am passionate about pulling them up because that needs to change,” she said.

Davis, in her new two-year position, will be tasked with leading the effort for the continued community organizing for the Southern United States, Hill said.

Wayne Josephs of Miramar sees purpose in the Diaspora movement.

When a Jamaican comes to America, he said, “people here, especially whites, want you to give up who you are and fit in.”

“My Jamaican culture is important, it’s who I am. I won’t compromise or sweep it away because someone does not understand me or my background,” said Josephs, who has lived in South Florida for 22 years. Davis, who also teaches in Nova’s international program in Jamaica responded, “We don’t want people to lose their culture. Oftentimes they feel it’s a necessity because they become like the people who are there for them during the transition. If we are going to embrace and foster what we have, (the Diaspora) must be there for them.”

“This is why it is critical that people know that we exist,” said Davis. “We have to become more visible, help people understand who we are. And that’s part of the role I will take on.”

Davis was born in Britain and grew up there, as well as in Jamaica and the United States. She attended South Bank University and University of Greenwich, both in London. Living in Miami since 1996, she said, “I get involved with anything Jamaican.”

The Jamaican community is at an important crossroad as it moves toward greater organization, communication and collaboration among Jamaican nationals, persons of Jamaican descent and organizations, Hill said after the meeting.

 “The meeting was an important step in our continued development of organizational leadership,” he said.

For more information about the Jamaican Diaspora, call Susan Lycett Davis at 786-349-2584 or e-mail info@jamiacadiaspora.org

Cynthia Roby may be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net

Photo: Susan Lycett Davis