PERSONS OF THE YEAR
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph And Olympian Kirani James
By Wendy Gomes
Jamaican-American Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and Grenadian Olympian Kirani James are EVERYBODY’S, the Caribbean-American magazine, Persons of the Year for 2023. In recent years, they have been steadily receiving a sizable number of votes from our readers. In 2023, Ralph and James garnered the most nominations. We thank all who nominated someone.
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, singer, producer, activist and “Jamaican to the bone,” is one of the most respected and admired women in the United States. When Miss Ralph sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during the opening ceremonies at the 2023 Super Bowl, millions of Americans, including young Black people, thought it was a new song. They were oblivious that for almost a century within African America “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was referred to as “The Negro National Anthem” or “Black National Anthem.” The song, written in 1900 by James Weldon Johnson, was rendered up to the 1960s to open meetings of Black organizations.
Until she came of age, Sheryl Lee may have sung “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with her dad, Stanley Ralph, or heard him rendering it at events in Uniondale, Long Island, NY, in churches and at West Indian organizations meetings in Harlem.
Reviews of DIVA 2.0 are in EVERYBODY’S April edition, other print publications and in the electronic media.
For Kirani James of Grenada, 2023 was not his most successful year. Track and field historians will say that in 2012, James won a Gold Medal at that year’s Olympic Games. But 2023 may have been his most significant year. After winning Gold in 2012, Silver in 2016 and Bronze in 2020 (21), and when considering his years in regional competitions long before his Olympic debut, it was unbelievable that James competed in global premier track and field events in 2023 and won the 400m dash in September at the Diamond League held in Xiamen, China.
Grenada – consisting of three islands, Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique – is a nation of approximately 100,000 persons. Yet, in proportion to its size and population, it boasts that it received three Olympic medals courtesy of Kirani James. His victories have inspired young Grenadians, and they are creating their legacy in global sports. For example, the world of sports expects Grenadian Anderson Peters to win a medal in the 2024 Olympic Games scheduled in Paris, France. James plans to compete in Paris, his 4th Olympian presence, now in his thirties; he hopes to give his Spice Island and the people of Gouyave, his hometown, another Olympic medal.
EVERYBODY’S commenced its Person of the Year Award in 1978 upon the suggestion of Helen B. Lucas to celebrate the magazine’s first anniversary. That year, Janelle Commissiong of Trinidad & Tobago who in 1977 became the first woman of color to be crowned Miss Universe received the accolades. She shared the honor with Calypso Rose, the first woman to shatter the male domination of Calypso by winning the 1977 National Calypso King title, thereby forcing the renaming of the prestigious competition to the National Calypso Monarch. Sir Arthur Lewis and his wife attended the magazine’s 1980 dinner in his honor, celebrating his 1979 Nobel Prize. Sir Lewis, a Saint Lucian, was the first Black person to win the Nobel prize for economics. Recent EVERYBODY’S Person of the Year include Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.