Archive for the ‘Politic’ Category

marcus_garvey_0822

TODAY IS MARCUS GARVEY’S BIRTHDAY, in the face of all that has been occurring (police brutality against brown and black people, institutional racism and all other forms of oppression) the words of MARCUS MOSIAH GARVEY can help us in our quest for change.

 

“One God One Aim One Destiny”

 

Short Overview from Jamaica Information Service.

 

– Jamaica’s first National Hero was born in St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann, on August 17, 1887. In his youth Garvey migrated to Kingston, where he worked as a printer and later published a small paper “The Watchman”.

 

During his career Garvey travelled extensively throughout many countries, observing the poor working and living conditions of black people.

 

In 1914 he started the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), in Jamaica. The UNIA, which grew into an international organisation, encouraged self-government for black people worldwide; self-help economic projects and protest against racial discrimination.

 

In 1916, Garvey went to the USA where he preached his doctrine of freedom to the oppressed blacks throughout the country.

 

However, USA officials disapproved of his activities and he was imprisoned, then deported.

 

Back in Jamaica in 1927, he continued his political activity, forming the People’s Political Party in 1929. He was unsuccessful in national elections but won a seat on the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC).

 

But the world of the 1930s was not ready for Garvey’s progressive ideas. He left Jamaica again, this time for England where he died in 1940. His body was brought back to Jamaica in 1964 and buried in the National Heroes Park in Kingston.

 

Garvey’s legacy can be summed up in the philosophy he taught – race pride, the need for African unity; self-reliance; the need for black people to be organised and for rulers to govern on behalf of the working classes.

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared throughout the British Empire in 1834

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared throughout the British Empire in 1834

(I originally wrote this piece a few years ago, still seems to make sense to me)

By Jason Walker

Emancipation day is an important day for the descendants of Africa, especially those whose ancestors were impacted by the brutal Slave trade. In the 1800’s the holocaust of slavery was hit with a crippling blow around the world. The Emancipation Act was passed on July 31, 1834 throughout the British Empire and effectively ended the inhumane Slave Trade. Full freedom from slavery did not come until four years later on August 1, 1838.  The 4 year period was instituted as a transition period as this monumental change would irrevocably change societies worldwide. The abolition of Slavery in the British Empire would affect slavery everywhere mainly because Britain’s navy owned the seas and without the cooperation of the British Navy, it made slavery both difficult and expensive. And as destructive, dehumanizing and inhumane the European version of the system of slavery was; it was for all intents and purposes an economic manifestation.

Slavery was a cruel and destructive system that had Africans as free labourers in labour intensive industries such as Cotton, Sugar and Tobacco. Throughout the 1400’s through to the middle of the 1700’s products such as these fetched a very attractive price, along with the free labour, a tidy profit could be made. Although labour was free, the cost to keep Africans enslaved was high. Especially in areas where there were slaves freeing themselves and staging revolts. The most successful of these of course included the Maroons in Jamaica from the 1500’s through to the 1700’s and even more so the Africans (including Maroons) in Haiti who at the end of the 1700’s would successfully wage a revolution against French armies, supported by Spain and England.

Do not think though that the Emancipation act came about from any suddenly altruistic gestures by the British Monarchy. Due to the work of many abolitionists in Britain; the sentiment against the horrific system Slavery had grown tremendously among the English population. Also the prices of the aforementioned products began to drop on the world markets as new products that did not need this labour intensive situation were now rising to prominence. Along with that came the advent of the industrial age which was ushering a new era where such labour numbers were not the order of the day. All the aforementioned along with the cost of keeping control and responding to revolts made these endeavours non-attractive. Continuing the genocidal and devastating system Slavery no longer made economic sense.

As we come to the present, we find that it is only in the past two decades that countries have decided to mark this date as a holiday, and of the countries that were affected by this act (Countries in Africa, The Caribbean, Central America, South America, & North America) a small percentage actually commemorate this day*. Maybe that is appropriate; I say this because although things are different from the era of slavery, people of African descent in the aforementioned geographical areas are not in a position of true emancipation.

The definition of Emancipation from the English Oxford Dictionary states that it is “the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberation:” With the majority of African persons in these areas lacking resources, political clout, and in some cases freedom, can we really call ourselves emancipated? It was probably this same observation that led former Prime Minister of Jamaica and former leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (a coalition of countries that were not listed as industrial nations) Michael Manley to say; “The enslavement of the body which endured till 1838 was nothing compared to the enslavement of the mind which persisted since”. The affects of slavery and the propaganda to support slavery has endured and left a lasting mark and has conspired to keep those of African descent in such a position.

Yet by our accomplishments singularly and in some rare cases collectively we see we are a very powerful people. So it is possible to change the current existence. However we will probably have to do what Reggae Superstar Bob Marley said in his song Redemption Song: “Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery” before we can truly be at a stage of Emancipation. So although we celebrate the Act that saw fruition on August 1 1838 annually, we should probably use these days to see where we are on the road of getting to the next stage of Emancipation and be creative in getting to that new stage.

*Countries that Celebrate Emancipation Day include: Jamaica, Barbados, Bermuda, Bahamas, St. Lucia, Canada, Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis

WYLCEF JEAN SITS WITH JASON SKYWALKER ON CROSSOVER MEDIA

Wyclef Jean and Jason Sky Walker

Wyclef Jean and Jason Sky Walker by Tiffanny Stennett

          Jason Sky Walker had a sit down with hip hop legend and superstar Wyclef Jean for Cross Over Media TV. On this archived podcast the producer, artist, politician, and author speaks on many topics including the Haiti earthquake, his career, the Fugees, his book, family and more.

          Play the video to watch this interview from one of the most talented and successful artists to come from the Caribbean. Please feel free to comment and give feedback.

AUGUST 1 IS EMANCIPATION DAY FOR ALL PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared

Emancipation Park statues representing Africans looking to the sky after Emancipation declared throughout the British Empire in 1834

By Jason Walker

Emancipation day is an important day for the descendants of Africa, especially those whose ancestors were impacted by the Slave trade. In the 1800’s the holocaust of slavery was hit with a crippling blow around the world. The Emancipation Act was passed on July 31, 1834 throughout the British Empire and effectively ended the Slave Trade. Full freedom from slavery did not come until four years later on August 1, 1838.  The 4 year period was instituted as a transition period as this monumental change would irrevocably change societies worldwide. The abolition of Slavery in the British Empire would affect slavery everywhere mainly because Britain’s navy owned the seas and without the cooperation of the British Navy, it made slavery both difficult and expensive. And as destructive, dehumanizing and inhumane the European version of the system of slavery was; it was for all intents and purposes an economic manifestation.

Slavery was a system used to have Africans as free labourers in labour intensive industries such as Cotton, Sugar and Tobacco. Throughout the 1400’s through to the middle of the 1700’s products such as these fetched a very attractive price, along with the free labour, a tidy profit could be made. Although labour was free, the cost to keep Africans enslaved was high. Especially in areas where there were slaves freeing themselves and staging revolts. The most successful of these of course included the Maroons in Jamaica from the 1500’s through to the 1700’s and even more so the Africans (including Maroons) in Haiti who would successfully wage a revolution against French armies, supported by Spain and England.

Do not think though that the Emancipation act came about from any altruistic gestures by the British Monarchy. Due to the work of many abolitionists in Britain; the sentiment against Slavery had grown tremendously among the English population. Also the prices of the aforementioned products began to drop on the world markets as new products that did not need this labour intensive situation were now rising to prominence. Along with that came the advent of the industrial age which was ushering a new era where such labour numbers were not the order of the day. All the aforementioned along with the cost of keeping control and responding to revolts made these endeavours non-attractive. Continuing Slavery no longer made economic sense.

As we come to the present, we find that it is only in the past two decades that countries have decided to mark this date as a holiday, and of the countries that were affected by this act (Countries in Africa, The Caribbean, Central America, South America, & North America) a small percentage actually commemorate this day*. Maybe that is appropriate; I say this because although things are different from the era of slavery, people of African descent in the aforementioned geographical areas are not in a position of true emancipation.

The definition of Emancipation from the British Oxford Dictionary states that it is “the fact or process of being set free from legal, social, or political restrictions; liberation:” With the majority of African persons in these areas lacking resources, political clout, and in some cases freedom, can we really call ourselves emancipated? It was probably this same observation that led former Prime Minister of Jamaica and former leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (a coalition of countries that were not listed as industrial nations) Michael Manley to say; “The enslavement of the body which endured till 1838 was nothing compared to the enslavement of the mind which persisted since”. The affects of slavery and the propaganda to support slavery has endured and left a lasting mark and has conspired to keep those of African descent in such a position.

Yet by our accomplishments singularly and in some rare cases collectively we see we are a very powerful people. So it is possible to change the current existence. However we will probably have to do what Reggae Superstar Bob Marley said in his song Redemption Song: “Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery” before we can truly be at a stage of Emancipation. So although we celebrate the Act that saw fruition on August 1 1838 annually, we should probably use these days to see where we are on the road of getting to the next stage of Emancipation and be creative in getting to that new stage.

*Countries that Celebrate Emancipation Day include: Jamaica, Barbados, Bermuda, Bahamas, St. Lucia, Canada, Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON CARIBBEAN AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH 2013

President Barack Obama flanked by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica (Left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago (Right) along with several Caribbean and Regional heads

President Barack Obama flanked by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica (Left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago (Right) along with several Caribbean and Regional heads

“For centuries, the United States and nations in the Caribbean have grown alongside each other as partners in progress. Separated by sea but united by a yearning for independence, our countries won the right to chart their own destinies after generations of colonial rule. Time and again, we have led the way to a brighter future together — from lifting the stains of slavery and segregation to widening the circle of opportunity for our sons and daughters.

“National Caribbean-American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate those enduring achievements. It is also a chance to recognize men and women who trace their roots to the Caribbean. Through every chapter of our Nation’s history, Caribbean Americans have made our country stronger — reshaping our politics and reigniting the arts, spurring our movements and answering the call to serve. Caribbean traditions have enriched our own, and woven new threads into our cultural fabric. Again and again, Caribbean immigrants and their descendants have reaffirmed America’s promise as a land of opportunity — a place where no matter who you are or where you come from, you can make it if you try.

“Together, as a Nation of immigrants, we will keep writing that story. And alongside our partners throughout the Caribbean, we will keep working to achieve inclusive economic growth, access to clean and affordable energy, enhanced security, and lasting opportunity for all our people. As we honor Caribbean Americans this month, let us strengthen the ties that bind us as members of the Pan American community, and let us resolve to carry them forward in the years ahead.

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2013 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month. I encourage all Americans to celebrate the history and culture of Caribbean Americans with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

“IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

“BARACK OBAMA.”

PHOTO CAPTION: President Barack Obama flanked by Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica (Left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad & Tobago (Right) along with several Caribbean and Regional heads

RESPECT GARVEY COURTYES OF GEOFFREY PHILP

FREE MARCUS GARVEY

BY JASON WALKER

Marcus Garvey is Jamaica’s 1st National hero, history’s greatest Pan-Africanist and the founder of the largest mass movement in history, the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association that claimed a membership of 4 million people with branches around the world), amongst many other seismic accomplishments. The title above might conjure up the rallying cry to have more access to education on the legendary man or more celebration of his accomplishments, words, vision and principles. That title might even bring forth a reminder that there is a need for much more adherence to his teachings of Pan-Africanism, black self-reliance, self-empowerment and other sustainable themes that he championed.

The title does not refer to the powerful sentiment of freeing or unleashing Marcus Garvey as the above paragraph delineates, however this title refers to a look at a movement that has been launched in response to the arresting and conviction of Marcus Garvey by the United States government on the charge of mail fraud in 1922. President Calvin Coolidge commuted Garvey’s sentence in 1927 and he was deported to Jamaica were he received a Hero’s welcome. Garvey passed in 1940. There is a consistent perspective among those who have researched the case and the events around the case that charges were unfounded and as such many believe Garvey should be pardoned.

One of the persons who have both researched extensively on Garvey and all that he has inspired and also demands exoneration is Jamaican poet, novelist and playwright Geoffry Philp. On speaking on the arrest of Garvey Philp lays out the reasons against the conviction: “J. Edgar Hoover used every legal maneuver to stop Garvey. In fact, before his eventual imprisonment on mail fraud, Garvey had been arrested several other times, which amounted to police and legal harassment.

 

However, Garvey was finally convicted on charges of mail fraud and sent to prison based on perjured confessions and the evidence of an empty envelope. Here are the words of two Garvey scholars, Colin Grant and Justin Hanford: “In order for Garvey to be found guilty of fraud, the prosecution would have to prove that the president-general [Garvey] had sent out adverts through the post, encouraging investors to buy shares in the Black Star Line knowing that these shares would be worthless. Strangely, the case turned on any empty envelope…Dancy’s only proof an empty envelope bearing a BSL stamp.

~ Colin Grant, Negro With a Hat, pp. 369.”

 

“On the day before the trial was set to begin, Judge Julian Mack received a mysterious correspondence from James Weldon Johnson, Secretary of the NAACP, in relation to the Garvey case. During the trial, Garvey submitted a plea for Judge Mack to recuse himself. Even though Judge Mack had participated “in meetings that finally led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,” originators of the “Garvey Must Go” campaign that sought to “destroy Marcus Garvey’s credibility,” Judge Mack failed to recuse himself. On the basis of Berger v. United States, Judge Mack should have honored Garvey’s request for recusal.” There is this and other alleged judicial misconducts in Justin Hansfrd’s Jailing a Rainbow: The Marcus Garvey Case (December 29, 2008). Georgetown Journal of Modern Critical Race Perspectives, Vol. 2, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1321527

 

Philp has started a petition to Congress and President Barack Obama to pardon the historic leader. According to Philp “the target goals for the petition to Congress (http://www.causes.com/causes/809819-congress-exonerate-marcus-garvey/actions/1722148) and the petition to President Barack Obama http://signon.org/sign/exonerate-marcus-garvey?source=c.url&r_by=4631897) are set at 10,000 signatures.

 

On the response so far Philp shares, “So far we’ve had over 2000 signatures on both sites. This might not seem like a lot, but you have to realize that Marcus Garvey has been erased from our collective memory. There has been a total demonization of Marcus Garvey by the press, so-called scholars of Black history and many writers who ought to know better.”

 

Historically there have been several attempts at exoneration, Philp illustrated that “from the time that Garvey was in jail there have been many attempts for his exoneration among them the letters from Universal African Missionary Convention from Cape Town. The most recent has been Representative Charles Rangel bill that he introduced to the House of Representatives in 2007:  H.Con.Res. 24 to exonerate Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Check out the bill here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/hconres24/text

 

When asked the reason for doing this now, Philp responded; “I believe the presidency of Barack Obama affords us a unique opportunity for the exoneration of Marcus Garvey. President Obama is an heir to Garvey’s legacy and in his book, Dreams from my Father, and then candidate Obama quoted Garvey’s famous words, “Rise up ye mighty people.””

 

Garvey represents one of the most powerful movements in history, a movement that started representing Africans in Jamaica and then onto the whole world. Philp passionately states “We are not exonerating Marcus Garvey for his sake; we are doing it for ourselves. For those inside and outside the Diaspora there is a broader question. The historian, Roy Augier, said that the most important question we have to ask ourselves is, “How do I negotiate the African presence in my life?” This has enormous implications in how we live our lives—how and what we eat; how and what we wear—every thing

“The color line” that DuBois wrote about is still with us. Marcus Garvey resolutely stands for Africa and there is no escaping his influence.

 

Jason Walker is a freelance writer for Caribbean Today Magazine who has had an award winning journalism career that spans 20 years. He can be followed on twitter at www.twitter.com/jasonwalker_ or emailed at jasonarticle@gmail.com

 

Former Prime Minister Michael Manley OJ

Former Prime Minister Michael Manley OJ

Celebrating My Jamaican and Caribbean Hero: Michael Manley

by Jason Walker

Michael Manley was born on December 10, 1924, so of course I was reminded of my hero as soon as his birthday came around. Manley made a big impact on on me from a very early age. The charismatic former Prime Minister of Jamaica had shined a light on the plight of the less fortunate and those who did not have a very prominent voice in Jamaican society. These consisted of the majority of the population (and also mainly those of African descent). Manley’s accomplishments are well documented and I list some below.

Manley came up in the era of Mandela, Nkrumah, Nehru, King, Castro, Marley and Tosh and as such became a part of a collective voice of leaders that cried out against colonialism, racism, imperialism, apartheid, Zionism and other forms of oppression. Manley’s commitment to social change in Jamaica (as evidenced in his speeches and legislation) and his call for a new international economic order that was more sustainable to developing and underdeveloped nations around the world, South-South cooperation, the fostering of the non-alignment movement and justice internationally and economic justice between states only through peace and equality helped to propel him as one of the major populists leaders of his time.

For me though my heroship started in a more personal space. I was only 5 years old, my father was taking me to a football game at the national stadium. Prime Minister Michael Manley had decreed that there should be no toy guns in Jamaica. This decree had upset my 5 year old mind very much. I loved to guns and had been waiting for a new one with blanks.

I digress, at the national stadium there was a large crowd on hand. I do not remember what teams were playing, but I do remember once in the stadium, I saw Manley was seated in the Royal Box and surrounded by police. I also remembered there was a lot of gunshots being fired all around the stadium. I would learn later that the gunmen were trying to kill the Prime Minister. In the moment though I did not care about any of that, I wanted to know why my favourite toy was banned from store shelves! I broke away from my father and ran towards Jamaica’s Head of State.

A police officer grabbed me as I reached the security circle around Manley. He held onto my shoulder very tightly until a bemused Manley waved him off and told me to come, like some celestial being beckoning from on high. I came over and he promptly hoisted me to his lap and asked me what can he do for me. I quickly glanced at my father who was by the police officer and jumped at my chance. I asked him how could he make such an unjust decree against the most wonderful toy in existence, without which I could not take the playing of police and tief to a higher level. I quickly followed with a question about when would this anti-toy gun law would end.

Manley laughed and what would follow would be one of the most surreal moments I ever experienced. I did not appreciate the irony then, that would come in later life, however as he leaned over me (I would realize later that he was shielding me), he proceeded to explain how he was trying to turn back the tide of violence that was growing throughout the country, instigated by outside forces, and he was trying to remove the thought process of using gun violence from the minds of young Jamaicans. While he was going through this explanation shots were ringing through the stadium at a more rapid rate and definitely coming closer. I do not remember too much after this except that we were separated and I went with my father and he went with the police and unfortunately, I would hear a man silenced by gunshots.

3 years later I met Mr. Manley again and he remembered who I was. I later met him at different times throughout my life and he was always welcoming, warm, and he always remembered! Another time we were in front of each other was in 1991 at the National Stadium, near the same Royal Box when Nelson Mandela made Jamaica the first country he would visit after leaving Jail because of the great Anti-Apartheid stance that Manley, many Jamaican artists and the whole country had taken. The last time I saw him I was in my twenties in Atlanta and he was lecturing at Emory University and the Atlanta Jamaican Association along with the Consulate for Jamaica in Atlanta had put together a small function for the former Prime Minister and guess what? Manley remembered. My earliest memory has become one of my most treasured memories and also has helped to shape the narrative of how I look at the hero Michael Manley with his heroic legacy that positively impacted people in Jamaica and throughout the world. Personally he has always felt like a loving, strong and powerful uncle who really cared and I will forever appreciate that. Happy Birthday Michael Manley and I thank you.

 

Here are some of Manley’s accomplishments:

  • Jamaica’s Order of Merit (OM) and

  • Order of the Nation (ON)

  • Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC)

  • UN Gold Medal for “significant contribution in cooperation with the United
    Nations and in solidarity with the South African liberation movement in the
    international campaign against apartheid”

  • World Peace Council’s Juliot Curie Peace Award for “contribution to the
    struggle of the Jamaican people and all people of the non-aligned world
    fighting for economic independence”

  • Socialist International’s citation for “contribution to the world economic
    debate on the New International Economic Order and for contribution to
    the deepening of democracy in Jamaica and the Caribbean”.

  • South Africa’s Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo (Gold Award) for promoting the interests and aspirations of the Republic of South Africa “at the higher levels through excellent cooperation and active expression of solidarity and support”.

  • Induction into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, for “the outstanding contribution he made during his life, his powerful enduring legacy in civil rights and his prominent voice in raising international awareness about the great civil rights issues that continue to resonate around the world”

  • Renaming of the headquarters of the National Housing Trust (NHT) as “The Michael Manley Building” in recognition of his role as the principal architect of the Trust

  • A monument has been erected in National Heroes Park, in Kingston, to
    honour his memory.

  • An endowed Michael Manley Chair of Public Policy has been established
    at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona, Jamaica.

  • The UWI has announced the establishment of a Michael Manley Centre for Global Dialogue, on its Mona Campus, to include a Michael Manley Scholar in Residence programme, an annual distinguished Lecture and interdisciplinary undergraduate course titled ‘The Michael Manley Legacy’ and a co-curricular programme of cultural activities in Mr Manley’s name.

  • A Memorandum of Understanding jointly signed in 1998 by the
    Government, the bauxite/alumina companies operating in Jamaica
    and the trade unions was named The Manley Accord in recognition of
    work done by Mr  Manley in the last eighteen months of his life in the
    effort to work out rules of engagement to secure industrial peace at
    the workplace.

  • The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) has set up a
    CTO/Michael Manley Memorial Fund, through which it provides
    scholarships and other forms of subsidy for outstanding
    Caribbean students pursuing courses in tourism.

  • A produce market, a housing estate and a major thoroughfare on
    the principal route linking Kingston with the Norman Manley International Airport bear his name.

  • His image appears on the $1,000 bill.

  • Honorary Doctor of Laws, MorehouseCollege , Atlanta(1973)

  • Order of the Liberator,Venezuela (1973)
  • Order of the Mexican Eagle (1973)
  • Order of Jose Marti, Cuba (1976)
  • United Nations Gold Medal (1978) for significant contribution in the co-operation with the United Nations and in solidarity with the South African Liberation Movement in the international campaign against Apartheid

  • Juliot Curie Peace Award of the World Peace Council (1979) for contribution to the struggle of the Jamaican people and all people of the non-aligned world fighting for economic independence

  • Appointed to the Queen’s Privy Council (1989)

  • Honorary Doctor of Letters, Claremont University , California (1989)

  • Conferred the Order of Merit of Jamaica (1992) for distinguished service in the field of international affairs

  • Carlton Alexander Memorial Award (1992) for contribution and service in politics

Jason Walker is a freelance writer for Caribbean Today Magazine who has had an award winning journalism career that spans 20 years. He can be followed on twitter at www.twitter.com/jasonwalker_ or emailed at jasonarticle@gmail.com