January 20, 2009 was a historical night to remember as the first official state society U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Inaugural Ball (the only celebration of America’s Caribbean community in tribute to President Barack Obama) took place at the Hall of the Americas of the Organisation of the American States in Washington D.C.
Complete with Caribbean talent at its best, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Inaugural Ball featured an impressive line-up to include legendary “Queen of Reggae” and I Three’s member, Marcia Griffiths, popular Reggae crooner, Cocoa Tea and Compas (or Kompa) Ambassador’s, Tabou Combo all provided courtesy of Brooklyn based, Trinidadian bred Publicist Rhea Smith, (CEO & Founder) FUNSATION4.
This prestigious Inaugural Ball also featured appearances by Congresswoman Donna Christensen, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam and Celebrity guests, American Idol Fantasia Barrino and renowned journalist/CNN Contributor Roland Martin among others.
As some guests danced the night away, others took advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mix, mingle and celebrate history with some of the most influential Caribbean/Caribbean-American leaders. Revered as “a gratifying way to showcase this American territory on such a historic occasion in a way that we would not ordinarily be visible." (Elizabeth Stanley Esq.) and "a Ball that fulfilled its purpose in making an impact and being a reminder that Caribbean people have been a part of the fabric of America-- from Independence through the Harlem Renaissance, through the Civil Rights Movement -- this moment belongs to us as well."Claire A. Nelson PhD.
Although temperatures outside were freezing, well-wishers braved the cold and came ready to “shake things up” as Tabou Combo warmed up the dance with a fiery mix of Kompa and Zouk, while Marcia Griffiths and Cocoa Tea performed popular hits like Electric Slide, War, Good Life, She Loves Me Now, Yes We Can, as well a musical tribute to President Obama entitled, Barack Obama by Cocoa Tea.
In addition to the all-star line-up, U.S.V.I.bred and D.C.’s own Image Band also performed a variety of popular Calypso, Soca and Reggae favorites as part of this preeminent showcase of extraordinary Caribbean patronage.
Providing the best opportunity for visible leadership of the Caribbean-American Community, this official U.S.V.I. Inaugural Ball was co-chaired by Elizabeth Stanley Esq., Founder and President. The Virgin Islands Institute of Development (VIID); Claire A. Nelson PhD., Founder & President - Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS), Washington D.C., and Joseph Baptiste DDS, Chairman - The National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians, Inc. (NOAH).
Honorary Chairs included The Honorable John P. de Jongh, Jr. - Governor of the US Virgin Islands, Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen, M.D, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam of Maryland, State Representative Marie St. Fleur of Massachusetts, State Representative Hazelle Rogers of Florida, and Assemblyman N. Nick Perry of New York. Other invited and honorary guests included Patrick Gaspard (Haiti), Director-designate of the White House Office of Political Affairs, and Eric Holder (Barbados), Attorney General-designate of the United States.