Mayor Hazelle Rogers “Humbled” by her Order of Distinction Award by the Jamaican Government

Mayor Hazelle Rogers "Humbled" by her Order of Distinction Award by the Jamaican Government

Mayor Hazelle Rogers

by Howard Campbell

SOUTH FLORIDA – A glance at Hazelle Rogers’ dossier shows a lifetime of service to the Jamaican Diaspora — from the community level in her longtime home of Lauderdale Lakes to sitting in the Florida House of Representatives.

Yet, when Rogers was informed recently that she is the recipient of the Order of Distinction, Jamaica’s sixth highest honor, it was the proverbial icing on the cake.

“It’s humbling; I’m a Jamaican no matter where I go. I say to my country ‘thank you’ because whatever I have done, trust me, the community was the wind beneath my wings,” she said.

Rogers is cited by the Jamaican government for tireless service to the Caribbean Diaspora. She is synonymous with South Florida where she moved to in 1981 from Brooklyn, New York.

Born in Kingston,  Jamaica’s capital, she migrated to the United States as a 17 year-old in 1969.

South Florida’s Jamaican/West Indian community was not the bustling colony it is today when Rogers relocated there 39 years ago. She was among a handful of persons who helped raise its profile through community activism via netball tournaments and in her case, the homeowners association in Lauderdale Lakes.

Helping the association’s members and other Jamaicans register to vote or apply for US citizenship, whetted Rogers’ appetite for public service and in 1996 she was elected to the Lauderdale Lakes Commission.

That paved the way for other Jamaicans like current Broward County mayor, Dale Holness, who became a Lauderhill city commissioner in 2004.

Rogers noted the surge of Caribbean representation in South Florida in the last 20 years, pointing to a strong presence on commissions in Margate, Miramar, Sunrise and Tamarac. It is proof, she added, “That the community is growing” not just for persons of Caribbean heritage, but from Latin America.

“As representatives, we have to recognize that population also and know that our cities are more diverse, so is our country and state,” she said.

In 2008, Rogers was elected to the Florida House, representing District 94. Four years later, she was elected unopposed to represent District 95 when the region’s boundaries were redrawn.

Four years ago, Rogers was elected mayor of her beloved Lauderdale Lakes. She is highly favored to win re-election in November.

Serving in the Florida House, she stated, has made her more aware and organized.

“The experiences gleaned from working in Tallahassee as a legislator prepared me tremendously. Now, I understand how to access resources to directly benefit my city and how to work with my State rep,” she said.

That state rep is Anika Omphroy, her niece, and one of several young leaders Rogers has mentored.

Hazelle Rogers will receive the Order of Distinction on October 19 during Jamaica’s National Honors and Awards ceremony in Kingston.

 

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