Marcus Garvey (Jamaica Observer)
KINGSTON – The Jamaica government says it is moving to clear all criminal charges against National Hero, Marcus Garvey, whose 130th birthday was celebrated here earlier this week.
Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Olivia Grange, said a Bill is being finalised that is aimed at absolving a number of iconic Jamaicans, including Garvey, of what she described as “acts of liberation”.
“We continue to argue that Garvey’s actions were not criminal, but were acts of liberation with moral justification. The Bill should be brought to the House in October to absolve National Heroes, including Garvey, and other freedom fighters of criminal liabilities arising from their acts of liberation and connected matters. By including Garvey in this Bill, we are moving to ensure that his record will be totally cleared,” she added.
Grange said despite several failed attempts to get Marcus Garvey’s name cleared of criminal charges in the United States, the Andrew Holness government remains unrelenting in efforts to achieve that goal.
“As a country, we have done a number of things to honour this great son of Jamaica and to remove the blots against his name . . . . We cannot give up this fight to clear his name,” she added.
Earlier this year, Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, said she was disappointed that former President Barack Obama did not posthumously pardon Garvey before leaving office.
On his last day in office, Obama commuted the sentences of 330 individuals. Garvey was convicted for mail fraud in the US in 1923.
“While the exoneration and/or pardon of the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey remains elusive, unresolved and unfinished business, we must continue our education and organizing efforts in the pursuit justice for the legendary icon,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.
Clarke, who had taken the lead, with 17 other members of the United States House of Representatives, in calling on Obama to pardon Garvey, said it was important that “we build upon the efforts waged over the years, most recently in pursuit of a presidential pardon, and that we continue to maintain and elevate the integrity of Garvey’s contributions to American history.
“His is a case of unjustified persecution that continues to cry out for justice,” said Clarke, stating that Garvey was “widely viewed as the Father of the 20th century civil rights movement”.
Grange said that in bad and good times, Jamaicans can take courage from the work of the National Hero as well as the statue which stands tall in Lawrence Park, St Ann’s Bay.
“Garvey’s statue looms large, and is a reminder of his influence on the world stage, a reminder of his determination, not just to uplift black people but to help us understand our innate power. In true Jamaican style, Garvey showed that nothing is impossible, despite opposition.”
She praised Garvey for the role he played in influencing world leaders and power brokers to “stop and take a look, not only at him and his work but at Jamaica, the country of his birth”.
Grange said that the government of Namibia has advised the Jamaica government that the main street in that country’s capital, Windhoek, will be renamed in honour of Garvey, with the ceremony set for later this year. (CMC)