Floyd Morris made history in Jamaica’s Parliament last week when he became the first visually impaired person appointed president of the Jamaican Senate, Parliament’s upper house.
The 44 year-old Seventh-day Adventist Church member is well-known in the Caribbean island nation for his advocacy on behalf of the disabled community.
In his address during his May 17 swearing-in ceremony, Morris quoted Micah 6:8, the memory verse of the Seventh-day Adventist quarterly lesson for the past week: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
In an interview, Morris said the appointment was proof of God’s faithfulness, and it came despite years of uncertainty about his life’s direction.
“What has transpired has proven to me once more that my God is real,” he said.
Jamaica’s prime minister, the Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller, said in an interview that she has “always admired Senator Morris’ strong sense of ethics, discipline and principled conduct.”
“I think the Senate will benefit tremendously from his leadership, and I have no doubt he will continue to be an inspiration to many, both here in Jamaica and across the globe,” Simpson-Miller said.
Morris hosts the radio program “Seeing From a Different Perspective,” and jogs each workday with the aid of his driver. He became Jamaica’s first blind senator in 1998.
Morris began losing his sight at age 17 due to glaucoma, and went completely blind six years later.
He gained assistance from the Jamaica Society for the Blind where he learned to read and write Braille. He has since completed a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and a master’s degree in philosophy of government. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. in political communication.
“Persons with disability must realize that we are living in an era where opportunities for the empowerment of people with disabilities are vastly improving, especially within the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” he said.
He added that one of the main goals of this parliamentary year is the passing of the National Disability Act, which he has championed since 1998.
Everett Brown, president of the Adventist Church in Jamaica, said the over 270,000-strong membership in the country was justly proud of Morris’ appointment.
“Despite his visual handicap, Senator Morris has always demonstrated his faith in God and strong Christian will to achieve, despite the odds,” Brown said. “We are sure that his commitment to his Christian ideals, coupled with his love for the Jamaican people and his impeccable character, will enable him to serve the Senate with distinction.”
Roughly 10 percent of Jamaica’s population is Adventist, and members hold prominent post throughout government and business. Adventist Church member Sir Patrick Allen is the nation’s governor-general.