The cities of Birmingham, Alabama and Kingston, Jamaica share far more than a similarity in the names of its mayors. We share deep ancestral heritage with England which goes back many many centuries. It is on this basis that I do not consider this ceremony as gaining a sister; but as a long overdue reconnection with a sister.
Through this partnership, we hope that the residents and especially the youth of our respective municipalities will benefit from the exchange of knowledge, culture, expertise and the development which will undoubtedly follow.
We spent the day learning about the history of Kingston yesterday but today we are here to charter its future; A future in which the City of Birmingham will hopefully play a significant role as a sister city and as a friend.
When Sister Cities International was founded 60 years ago, the goal was to create an international community that would be the hub of peace and prosperity. President Eisenhower reasoned that people of different cultures could celebrate and appreciate their differences and build partnerships which would eventually lessen the chance of conflicts. Not many legacies of President’s have lasted across so many administrations but this community has and that is certainly commendable.
From President Kennedy to Johnson to Nixon and Ford right back to Bush and even more recently President Obama; all have served as honorary chairmen of Sister Cities International.
Just as successive Presidents followed and have upheld this legacy; I invite you all to partner with your respective Mayors that we can build something as lasting and as successful that generations to come will aspire to continue. You have seen the Royal treatment which Kingston has to offer to its guests but I assure you that it is nothing compared to what Kingston is prepared to offer to its sister.
There is a popular Jamaican saying “One han' cyaan clap” which emphasizes the importance of unity and collaboration in the accomplishments of a set goal. We are one hand; and Mr. Bell; your city is the other. Together we will applaud several accomplishments in Culture, Education, Social Activity, Business Partnerships, Local Economic Development and Best Practices.
In closing, I anticipate the birth of what is undoubtedly the start of a beautiful partnership. I thank you for joining us on this venture and I assure you that just as the Vulcan statue stands tall and strong; so too will this partnership from this day on.