Respect to Africans throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the world who fought against the holocaust of slavery. The fight led to the end of the evil system. Unfortunately the affects are still seen today and have evolved in different ways.



BY Jason Walker
Today JAMAICA is 53. It is a moment of blessing and happiness for those of us born in, descendant of and love Jamaica. It is also a time to share that happiness with those who love Jamaica although not born in the land of wood and water. There are many reasons to be proud of our young small nation and the peoples who have been brought forth from this nation that have put a stamp on human history. All this has been done while facing seemingly insurmountable odds from the first moment Europeans destroyed the aboriginal people in Jamaica, to the Africans fighting against slavery and having limited success against the most far-reaching holocaust in human history, to the influencing of PAn African thought through Marcus Garvey & Rastafarians and the infectuous Reggae music and powerful contirbutions in the areas of human rights, progressive thought, academia, Christian service, athletics and so much more.
We have done all this while dealing with challenges from both outside and inside of our communities and creating a Diaspora that by all estimates doubles our population on the island. I would like to see as a present on this 53rd year, all Jamaicans really coming together with a mindset of always supporting people and things Jamaican in positive realms and to use all these areas of GODly anointing that we show so successfully to truly make us advance in every area so that we not only benefit ourselves, but the whole human race.
Happy Birthday Jamaica to all Jamaicans, those of Jamaican descent and those who love Jamaica
National Pledge
Before God and all mankind, 
I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart, 
the wisdom and courage of my mind, 
the strength and vigour of my body in the service of my fellow citizens; 
I promise to stand up for Justice, Brotherhood and Peace, 
to work diligently and creatively, 
to think generously and honestly, 
so that Jamaica may, under God, 
increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, 
and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.


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




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:


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 ( and the petition to President Barack Obama 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:


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 or emailed at