Karl Reginald Hendrickson: Honour to whom honour is due
The Jamaica America Friendship Association made a most fitting choice in presenting Mr Karl Hendrickson with the Martin Luther King Junior Humanitarian Award last Saturday night.
While Mr Hendrickson is known for his success in business, and indeed has distinguished himself as an entrepreneur, he has demonstrated the qualities that are associated with the enduring spirit of Dr King and this most prestigious award — deep respect for his fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to advancing the well-being of others.
Through his business ventures alone, Mr Hendrickson, supported by his family, has provided jobs for well over 2,000 Jamaicans. In fact, one could successfully argue that the export push by his baking companies into the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom is helping to enhance the viability of his employees' jobs, especially in Jamaica's current tough economic environment.
Indeed, the fact that Mr Hendrickson's diversification of his businesses has been fuelled by his strong sense of endless possibilities, contributed greatly to his family sharing the Observer Business Leader Award with another Jamaican conglomerate, GraceKennedy, in 2012.
Both companies, readers will recall, were awarded for their continued contribution to the Jamaican economy since Independence and, in fact, represent the very best that this country has to offer, especially in the areas of product and human capital.
But while we recognise his business prowess, we are pleased to salute the quality of the humility displayed by Mr Hendrickson each time he is singled out for special mention. For he never accepts the well-deserved accolades without acknowledging the importance of his family.
"My greatest achievement in life has been the closeness of my family...the support they gave me made me into the best man I could be," he told the audience after accepting the Martin Luther King Award.
He also revealed that he is an admirer of Dr King's approach to human dignity, moral principles, fearless persistence and his firm belief that "we're all born with a purpose to be fulfilled". But then, we would have guessed that, given how Mr Hendrickson has lived his own life and the values he has instilled in his children.
He has now joined the proud pantheon of local heroes who have received this coveted award, including: prime ministers Michael Manley and Edward Seaga; Lady Gladys Bustamante; Fr Richard Ho Lung; Carlton Alexander; Gordon 'Butch' Stewart; Lord Morris and Douglas Orane.
Our warmest congratulations to Mr Hendrickson and to the Jamaica America Friendship Association for recognising and saluting a most decent human being.
Dr King, we believe, would have been proud — had he been alive — to witness an award in his honour being bestowed on someone of the calibre of Mr Karl Reginald Hendrickson.