Celebrating Our Story

THE WEEK LY GLEANER | FEBRUAR Y 16 - FEBRUARY 22, 2021 | www.jamaica-gleaner.com | I LAND FOR SALE CLARENDON Chapleton, Clarendon, Jamaica, 18.5 acres scenic view, adjoining local High School, Clarendon College, General Hospital. Gently sloping land with some fruit trees and small river. Accessible by paved roads then short parochial road; Water, Light available, Possible housing development an option. Plan available on request from the surveyor. Call: Tracey Heaven; 876.931.4471 876.869.5542 (cell) NEW YORK, NY: L AST YEAR a group of African- centred cultural activists liked the idea of creating a body of work that memorialised Africans in Africa and the diaspora who have worked for the liberation of their peo- ple. And so a tribute to our ancestors, 366 Days of Liberation, was realised in a book form. Enabled by research and lived ex- perience, 366 Days of Liberation by Claudette Joy Spence celebrates a liv- ing history but also fulfils what the author calls her assignment given to her by her ancestors. Spence, a pan-Africanist for most of her adult life, was born in Jamaica, WI, and has lived in the US for more than 30 years. She serves in the roles of educator, interpersonal, social, and economic justice advocate, journalist, author, friend, a lay leader, and a people empowerment facilitator. She earned a bachelor’s de- gree in Political Science and Communications and a Master of Science in Communications and has worked in community development for more than 30 years. This is Spence’s fifth book. The foreword is written by Andrew P. Jackson (Sekou Molefi Baako) – an activist librarian, library consultant, professor, award-winning published author and essayist, and a cultural warrior. Several Africans, including some residing in Jamaica, have also con- tributed to 366 Days of Liberation . They write of their ancestors who have contributed to the liberation of Africans. These contributors include Errol Williamson, Alpheus Lewis, and Delroy McCormack. Other Caribbean nations repre- sented with first person narratives in- clude Grenada, Haiti, and Montserrat. 366 Days of Liberation is available for purchase at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and large print. Claudette Joy Spence is available for presentations, communications work- shops and discussion groups. 366 Days of Liberation Claudette Joy Spence Foreword: Andrew P. Jackson (Sekou Molefi Baako) Publisher: CSolutions Celebrating Black History Month … Claudette Joy Spence, author. CONTRIBUTED Orville Taylor/Contributor THIS MONTH marks 59 years since the democratically elected government on this ‘big country’ on a small island signed an agreement with her maj- esty’s government, to achieve legal independence from Britain. However, our black Jamaican story is much older. Indeed, as we celebrate the histo- ry-making appointment of Kamala Harris and her Jamaican connection, we had better pause and recognise that long before that moment, Jamaicans had not only been making history in the United States, but importantly, we were also writing it. And yes, that is even before the second greatest black man was creating inroads on the con- tinent north of us. Doubtless, Marcus Mosiah Garvey opened the minds of black people in America and the rest of the world. With his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), founded in 1914, inspired a myriad of persons, including the legendary Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panthers and the Black Power Party. My colleague Ras Dr Michael Barnett has produced a copious body of work, demonstrating how the Nation of Islam has deep roots in Garveyism. We might be even surprised thatmany of themod- ern-day successful economic policies, including that followed by Singapore, and the American economists of the post-World War II era, were influenced by Jamaica-based St Lucian, Sir Arthur Lewis. His ideas, nurtured while at the fledgeling University of theWest Indies (UWI), ultimatelymadehimthe first black person to receive the Nobel Prize in any other category thanpeace. Lewis’father was a strongGarveyite, who took himto many UNIA meetings in his boyhood. America’s popular economic perspec- tive, modernisation theory, developed by W.W. Rostow, therefore has some of its roots in Garveyism. FAMILIAR TASTE Yet, most do not know that Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn Jr, whose daddy, along with General Robert Venables, routed the Spanish in 1655. By the way, given the paucity of ‘pure blood’ Caucasians in the early years of the colony, a lot of the early settlers had drops of vanilla and seeds of pimento in their milk. Long before dancehall influenced rap, Jamaicans, both black and white, had dropped their DNA deep into the states. When the Jamaican plantation owners in the 1800s saw the slave trade coming to an end and the im- minent demise of slavery itself, many of them took flight and followed the trade winds up into the Carolinas. If you ever ate Jamaican spinach, pig trot- ters, tripe and beans and fried chicken, you might be surprised that when you get ham hocks, chitlins and collard greens, it has a very familiar taste. Read, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia byWinston James. You will be amazed by the long history of Jamaican con- tribution to the development of the USA. Indeed, James notes that it is be- cause up to 30 per cent of the African- American population between North and South Carolina are our‘genaration’. We might also be surprised that Kamalamight not be the first Jamaican- originated vice-president. Evidence suggests that George Mifflin Dallas, who served with President James Polk, was the son of Kingston-bornAlexander James Dallas. And yes! Dallas, Texas, and Dallas in St Andrew, which inter- estingly adjoins Constitution Hill, are names after the same clan. True, they were‘white’but unless he can showme the DNA test, if a white-looking man is from Jamaica, he is likely to be‘passing’. But, let us dig up the black side a bit more. We all know of Garvey’s exploits in bringing knowledge to black Americans. But who knows of Negril-born J.A. Rogers? Journalist and author Joel Augustus Rogers, born in 1880, migrated to the USA in 1906 and shook up ants nests. Some of his works include From Superman to Man, World’s Great Men of Color, 100 Amazing facts about the Negro: With Complete Proof and the must- read Five Negro Presidents published in 1965, the year that black Americans finally got universal suffrage. ‘BLACKADEMICS’ These are: Thomas Jefferson, who had children with his slave, Sally Hemmings, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge. Lincoln, whose 212th birth- day is Friday this week, is particu- larly interesting, not because of his Emancipation Proclamation. Rather, his law partnerWilliamHendon alleged in a book, titled The Hidden Lincoln , that Lincoln was a ‘jacket’ because Daddy Lincoln, Thomas Lincoln, could not have sired him because childhood mumps left him sterile. Whatever the reason, the current crop of ‘blackademics’ seem to have overlooked Rogers. However, at a mini- mum, we owe it to ourselves to at least pay attention to the massive body of work of this great Jamaican. When one goes through his books, the informa- tion is so overwhelming, it is easy to get light-headed afterwards. So, given that Carter G. Woodson started Black History Month (Week) exactly 95 years ago, one full year after Garvey was sentenced in the USA, let’s pay attention to our own. HARRIS Marcus Garvey. CONTRIBUTED Jamaica’s influence on the black world 10 FEBRUARY 16 - MARCH 15, 2021 | www.jamaica-gleaner.com | CEL ATING OUR STOR Y - AWEEKLY GLEANER B LACK HISTORY FEATURE