Jamaica’s first national hero feted on centennial

History has been kind to the legacy Marcus Mosiah Garvey left behind. Although the Rastafarian movement, songs and reggae attributes have consistently lauded the prophetic messages Garvey imparted to his audiences, for a time he remained elusive to mainstream media.

One hundred years after he impacted the world, the history of the Jamaican also known as the father of Pan-Aficanism is now a source of national pride in his birth island and perhaps even more regaled throughout the USA.

With his 127th birth date near, a long list of activities are planned for here, there and almost everywhere.

In Harlem, an entire day’s celebration spotlights Harlem Week festivities on Aug. 17 with outdoor activities, music, health screenings, exhibitions, vendors, an auto show and myriad of children-friendly activities. The entire swath of streets along the length of 135th with performance stages at Malcolm X. Blvd. Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and Fifth Ave. will feature a diverse lineup of talent.

At Marcus Garvey Park, on his Aug. 17 birth date, Harlem Family Day begins at 4:00 p.m. with performances by Kojo Odu Roney & friends, B-Love’s Hip-Hop Jazzy Groove, DJ-KS 360, Shine and the Moonbeams, and Moona Luna. Later at 7:00 p.m. Ballatrix!:a Soul Train Tribute to Women in Music features a three-hour celebration.

And on Aug. 19 at the Garvey School, 950 Baychester Ave. in the Bronx at 5:30 p.m. an anniversary birthday celebration for Jamaica’s first national hero will be hosted by the Jamaica Progressive League.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey founded the UNIA on July 20, 1914.

He recruited its first member, a young lady named Amy Ashwood.

He held the organization’s first meeting at 121 Orange St. in Kingston, Jamaica. One month later, the UNIA began holding weekly public meetings at the Collegiate Hall on Church St. and by 1920 the UNIA was the largest Pan African organization ever established in history.

Garvey emerged the undisputed Father of Pan-Africanism and Jamaica’s first national hero.

It has been 100 years since he conceptualized and launched the historic and global confraternity of the race. The Kingston division in collaboration with the government has recognized the milestone anniversary with a number of events and activities which began on the actual July 20, founding date. A centennial church service was held at the Saint Andrew’s Scots Kirk, home of the Collegiate Hall where it all began.

The principal commemoration event was followed by the MYC Festival 2014 Signature Conversations series at the Institute of Jamaica lauded where the national hero was regaled during a panel discussion. “Garvey & the National Agenda” was the topic.

Activities have been on-going throughout the month of August and included the UNIA’s presence at the Emancipation Jubilee in his St. Ann birth parish. Also held were the unveiling of several heritage signs dedicated to Garvey and the UNIA in Kingston. The historic organization also participated in the national festival activities on Aug. 3 and 5 where they debuted a film by Ashwood who later married Garvey.

On independence, Aug. 6 a special segment was devoted to the 100-year organization at the Grand Gala celebrations held at the National stadium. Some of the tributes included presentations by the UNIA Juveniles. The August celebrations will culminate with the sixth staging of the annual UNIA Marcus Garvey Awards on the East Lawns of Devon House, the former home of one of Jamaica’s first millionaires. That event is slated for Aug. 17.

For further information, please contact the UNIA-ACL in Jamaica at 876.828.4144 or by email at [email protected].

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