In the month of May 2020, the Jamaican Cultural Connection (JCC) inaugurated its new president, Rosemarie Roth. The Clarendon-native and Florida resident is an ordained pastor, with a passion and love for her culture. As the current leader for the stateside organization, she is enthusiastic about her new responsibility. “I’m very excited about taking the mission and the vision to the forefront,” said Roth “because the second generation of Jamaicans will learn from us the Jamaica in which we grew up was quite cultural.”
Her goal as president is to serve and maintain the organization’s purpose, but to further expand its outreach so the organization will be known and be respected. As one of the founding members of the organization, Roth has always been committed to the group and its quest. Now she wants to continue the work and also educate others with the years-worth of knowledge she’s gained, and she wants to market it with a business mentality so they’ll be able to give back to Jamaicans back home. “If someone is going to sell a car, they have to know cars, and for me, JCC is like that,” said Roth. “When I learned about JCC, I learned about it and I rehearsed it to the point that I want to sell the idea of it like a salesman,” she said. “I want to sell the idea that our Jamaican culture can connect us whether we’re here or there, male or female, no matter how old we are.”
During her tenure as a member of JCC, she picked up a lot of information, learning the ins-and-outs of the organization enough to helm and instruct anyone about it. With that, Roth says this quality makes her qualified to carry out the chief title for this 10-year-old organization.
Roth has lived in the U.S. for more than four decades but yearns for the flavors of Jamaica’s food, music and hot colors. She is a pastor at Alpha Point Ministries and holds many other titles, particularly in grant writing, paralegal, event planning, and disaster preparedness. Initially joining the group to volunteer, Roth found herself more involved, and growing interested in participating with the JCC beyond being at service. However, she found that being part of the organization took a lot more than showing up, and it required some self-reflection. “This time I wasn’t creating something new, I was joining an association that already existed and it was very challenging because Covid19 has changed the rules for assembling,” said Roth. “When the presidency began for me at JCC, I had to get to the core of my being and learn what was my commitment, and what was drawing me to be part of this particular group.”
With this reflection her desire to remain dedicated to JCC stayed unwavered. For each hurdle Roth met, instead of running away — she faced her fears and learned a new skill to satisfy the requirements that came her way. Over the years, Roth would return to school to earn more certification, picking up leadership and management skills to equip her. Unlike previous organizations for which she worked in the past, JCC was different and challenged her like nothing before. But afterwards, Roth says with patience came the reward to share her knowledge with a group of just as committed members. “The support from the executive board has been phenomenal,” she says. They too have a vision of culturally connecting in Jamaica. She believes this administration will blossom because of the team workers with mutual respect and determination to succeed.
As president of JCC, Roth’s role will mostly entail ensuring that the organization’s key mission is met, whilst overseeing how the group seeks out its core base through cultural programs. “The name of the organization somewhat gives our description and that is using the Jamaican culture to raise money and raise awareness of those who paved the road to the present,” said Roth. She states that notable Jamaican figures such as Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, and Louise Bennett-Coverley are examples the organization uses to enlighten Jamaican-Americans about the importance of their heritage. But more specifically, the importance is emphasized for those who are more distant from the culture but are interested in learning more.
Roth sees the youth as a key factor to community-building and believes in the power they will wield in the future. But as COVID-19 leaves a big question mark on the world’s future, Roth says she is focusing the organization’s strategy on relationship building within the organization and the membership families. “Normally I would be planning big events that would be entertaining, but now we have social distancing going on and it’s a challenge so now my whole outlook is changing,” said Roth. She adds that the current needs will be mostly geared on a person to person basis, as opposed to a larger group. “I think the slogan ‘each one brings one’ is very relevant right now,” she added.
“This pandemic is unpredictable and managing an organization will be different for the time being, but we will ultimately be geared toward making a difference. Right now people are scared and people are caught up with the insecurities of what is ahead, so I look forward to my disaster preparedness training, where we will prepare to take care of ourselves and those closest to us so it becomes personal,” she said. “I have to reach people on a personal level, so instead of saying ‘How can we connect to you all?’ we will be saying, ‘How can we help you?’
But as her personal goal within the organization, Roth hopes that she can inspire others to bring forth all types of respective talent big or small. She adds that it is a prime concern of hers to generate a culture among new and current group members that encourages productivity that will benefit not only the group, but each member individually. “I want to bring out the value of each member in the association and I believe that each person can contribute, whether it’s a dish or a poem — just something,” said Roth. “I feel that everybody has something they can teach us that we never knew before.”
With this hope, JCC sees each Jamaican in the diaspora dedicating their time to revisit their roots, share a thought and give a gift of love by connecting with others. Roth thinks her job will be accomplished when each JCC member shares enthusiastically about the existence of the organization by seeking persons with whom they can connect with resources. “I want people to know that if they can’t connect, then create.”