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Jamaica, Land We Love: Hazelle Rogers

by Howard Campbell

[SOUTH FLORIDA] – A stalwart of South Florida’s Jamaican community, Hazelle Rogers is the epitome of community service. The current mayor of Lauderdale Lakes, she also served two terms in the Florida State Senate.

Rogers points to her formative years in east Kingston, Jamaica as fostering her commitment to building communities from the grassroots.

“My school was Vauxhall, that’s where I found myself. I loved my (school) house, Lincoln, and being part of the annual sports day; everyone looked forward to that. Then it was on to Camperdown High School. I brought that culture to America — it is my culture,” she declared.

Rogers migrated to the United States in 1969. She initially settled in Brooklyn, New York which was the hub for Jamaican immigrants in the US during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.

In 1981, she relocated to South Florida which has been her home since. But Rogers has never forgotten growing up the eldest of three children in the middle-class neighborhoods of Franklin Town and adjacent Vineyard Town.

Hazelle Rogers Jamaica Land We Love
Hazelle (right front), sister Marlene with their Mom and Dad

“When my parents went to England we were boarded out with my teacher from Vauxhall and she lived right behind (open-air cinema) Globe Theater, so that was an experience. We would climb up and watch what’s going on with the mosquitoes and the ants,” she recalled, laughing.

Her fondest memories of living in Jamaica during the 1960s are at Vauxhall, a co-ed high school located along Windward Road. That stretch leads to the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

The school’s traditional strength was netball, a sport Rogers excelled at while a student there. Vauxhall is also where she got a rounded view of her country.

“We went on school outings that were always enjoyable. We learnt about Jamaica beyond Kingston by going to places like Dunn’s River (in St. Ann parish) and Milk River (in Clarendon parish). I got to learn so much about Jamaica on those trips,” she said.

Jamaica, Land We Love: Hazelle Rogers
Hazelle Rogers

Prior to COVID-19, Rogers visited Jamaica every two years. On occasion, she invites a friend to experience her roots and what makes her homeland unique.

“When you get older you realize the things that kept you grounded. Things like sports and drama class enriched my life, so I love sharing my culture with friends,” she stated.

Hazelle Rogers is currently campaigning for the District 9 seat on the Broward County Commission. Her opponent in the August 3 Democratic primary is Guithele Ruiz-Nicolas.

 

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