It is my honour and pleasure to warmly greet the readers of this Black History Month magazine as we celebrate and highlight Black History Month 2019. The month of October is also observed in Jamaica as National Heritage Month, when we pay homage to our six national heroes and one heroine, whose rich contributions have paved the way for what is now a progressive and free Jamaica.
Jamaica’s first National Hero, the Rt. Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”.
It is therefore important that we seize every opportunity to highlight and celebrate the important cultural heritage of the Afro-Caribbean community.
For this reason, I commend this magazine for its focus on lifestyle issues affecting the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora, as well as its focus on empowerment. As we highlight these important issues, I am reminded of the many challenges which we have and continue to face as a people, many of which we have overcome through our unified strength, resilience, support and positive spirit. In this regard, I wish to use this opportunity to encourage my brothers and sisters from our sister island the Bahamas, as they grapple with the numerous challenges facing their beautiful islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Please be assured of our solidarity with the people of the Bahamas at this difficult time. Among the activities for Black History month this year, the Jamaican High Commission will be involved in two important activities highlighting the role of Afro-Caribbean nationals and their messages of empowerment. The first relates to a collaboration with the Sam Sharpe Project on the 8th Annual Sam Sharpe Lecture titled “Reparations”. The lecture will be delivered by Professor Verene Shepherd noted Jamaican Professor of Social History, Vice Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Committee, first woman to be made full professor of the Mona History Department and first Jamaican-CARICOM member to be elected to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
This lecture is certainly timely and appropriate as we further promote the culture, history and heritage of people of African descent during the UN declared International Decade for People of African descent 2015-2024, under the theme “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development”.
The other important highlight of the month is the release of the publication entitled “Jamaicans in the United Kingdom – A legacy of leadership”. This publication which is a collaboration between the Jamaican High Commission and the Nurses Association of Jamaica (UK), highlights the positive stories of some five-hundred persons of Jamaican heritage and their contribution to the development of a multi-cultural Britain. Among them, is the late Honourable Louise Bennett Coverley, OM, OJ, MBE, Jamaican icon and mother of Jamaican culture, who in 1945, was the first black student to study at the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts (RADA) on a British Council scholarship.
I am pleased that Jamaica has a rich legacy of empowerment of women, many of whom have been trailblazers right here in the United Kingdom. The publication of this book which was made possible by a grant from the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government, is also a most fitting tribute to these women in particular and will be distributed in schools, libraries and communities across the UK as a useful source of information for generations to come.
I extend my best wishes for a productive rest of year and beyond.