Leo Edwards, an “Elder Statesman and Genuine Treasure in Washington, DC & Jamaican Community” – Ambassador Marks

Leo Edwards, an “Elder Statesman and Genuine Treasure in Washington, DC & Jamaican Community” – Ambassador Marks

L-R: Leo and Carmen Edwards, joined by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen, and Ambassador to the United States Audrey P. Marks, at a Jamaican independence service in Washington, D.C.
(Photo Derrick Scott)

By Derrick Scott

Washington, D.C. – E. Leopold Edwards, a towering figure in the Jamaican and Caribbean American community here for more than seven decades, is being remembered and hailed as an “elder statesman.”

His departure marks, “without question, the closing of a distinctive era and chapter in the Jamaican American community, and in the Caribbean American community as well.”

So declared Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey P. Marks, in a statement reacting to his death at home in Silver Spring, Maryland, this past April 25, aged 95.

“Leo most certainly etched a defining imprint onto the trajectory of the Jamaican and Caribbean community in the Washington metro area and much further afield.”

Ambassador Marks in the tribute conveyed her “very deep, heartfelt sympathies to Carmen, Leo’s wife and ever-present co-laborer in the cause of Caribbean American affairs, and to son Hugh and the rest of the Edwards family, and likewise to the many friends and fellow laborers now mourning.”

She added, “This has to be a truly difficult a time, especially in the present circumstances restricting us from being able to pay respects in person.”

Eric Leopold Edwards was born in Jamaica and arrived in Washington, D.C., in September 1948 to study at Howard University. The trail he blazed during his more than 70 years of advocacy played a key role in winning recognition and respect for the Jamaican and Caribbean communities in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore metropolitan area, said Ambassador Marks, who went on to note that the late Mr. Edwards leaves a legacy that includes “his service as an early president of the Caribbean Students Association at Howard University, from 1949 to 1955 and later in the Caribbean-American Intercultural Organization (CAIO) and the National Coalition on Caribbean Affairs (NCOCA).”

Leo Edwards, an “Elder Statesman and Genuine Treasure in Washington, DC & Jamaican Community” – Ambassador Marks

Ambassador Marks converses with Leo Edwards during a reception at the Jamaican Embassy in Washington, D.C. (Photo Derrick Scott)

Leo Edwards’ numerous other trail-blazing activism and notable contributions included being a founding patron of the Washington-based Caribbean American Political Action Committee (C-PAC), and founding president of the Council of Caribbean Organizations, Inc.; a founding member and secretary of the Jamaica Nationals Development Foundation; and chairman of TransAfrica D.C. Metropolitan Chapter’s board of directors.

Meanwhile, the Jamaican Ambassador lamented that “this has to be a truly difficult a time,” especially in the present circumstances restricting us from being able to pay respects in person.  “Nevertheless, I join with numerous Jamaicans, Caribbean people, and countless others whose lives the great E. Leopold Edwards touched in immeasurable ways, trying to help bear the burden of the loss in this moment of utmost grief.”

Amid the grief, Ambassador Marks highlighted the great friend of the Embassy and personal friend that Leo Edwards became to her, noting, “I am gratified that we at the Embassy did honour Leo’s selfless contributions to Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora.”  She noted that the Jamaican government recognized his worth by bestowing on him the prestigious national Order of Distinction.

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Posted in: National News
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