The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport celebrated the 99th anniversary of the birth of the Most Honourable Hugh Lawson Shearer, ON, OJ, PC, third Prime Minister of Jamaica, with a floral tribute at his shrine at the National Heroes Park on Wednesday, May 18.
The commemorative event saw a number of national leaders laying floral arrangements in remembrance of the former Prime Minister, including: Honourable Desmond McKenzie, CD, MP, JP and Minister of Local Government and Rural Development representing the Most Hon Andrew Holness, ON, PC, MP, Prime Minister; Senator Dr. Floyd Morris representing Mr. Mark Golding, MP, Leader of the Opposition; the Honourable Robert Montague, MP and Chairman of the Jamaica Labour Party; Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade representing the JLP Caucus of Women; the Most Honourable Mrs. Hugh Shearer, OJ, CD – widow of the Most Honurable Hugh Shearer, ON,OJ, PC; Senator Kevan Gayle, CD, President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union; Winston Ennis, Councillor of the Waterloo Division, representing His Worship the Mayor Senator Councillor Delroy Williams, CD, JP Mayor of Kingston and St. Andrew; and Mrs. Sainia Bennett-Davis representing Dr. Lauren Marsh , President of the Hugh Shearer Trade Union Institute.
During her welcome, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, CD, MP reflected on Mr. Shearer’s contribution as Prime Minister:
“In 1962, when he had the honour of delivering Jamaica’s first policy statement at the United Nations Assembly calling for the establishment of an international year for human rights, Shearer said that ‘only a newly independent country can bring one more voice of saying and moderation to the world organization’. The world body listened and declared 1968 as the International Year of Human Rights. Shearer explained the objective of the international year was to pool talents and knowledge to help translate democratic ideals into practical actions. In many ways, Hugh Shearer was that voice of sane reason during his lifetime and that was the spirit in which led and governed,” Minister Grange said.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development the Hon Desmond McKenzie representing Prime Minister Most Andrew Holness shared in his reflection of the late Prime Minister:
“Many Jamaicans would remember the Most Honourable Hugh Shearer as the champion of the working-class people, a man who gave a different platform to the trade union movement in those days. They remember his strong voice in agitating and making representations on behalf of the unions. I don’t believe at that time, there was another trade unionist who was as genuine in their approach in representing the rights of workers of Jamaica. I believe a lot more can be done to make known to the young generation the work of the Most Honourable Hugh Lawson Shearer,” Minister McKenzie said.
“The Jamaica Labour Party has benefited significantly from his contribution not only here in Jamaica but also on the international scene. After he left West Kingston after the 1959 elections, he went and planted the seeds in South-East Clarendon and that constituency continues to bear the marks and pay tribute to Hugh Shearer,” Minister McKenzie continued.
The commemorative event held in remembrance of the former Prime Minister also saw a musical tribute being made by La Musicacion Company.
Hugh Lawson Shearer was born on May 18, 1923 in Martha Brae, Trelawny. He entered the political field when he was elected as a Councillor of the KSAC in 1947. He was appointed Island Supervisor of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and elected Vice-President of the Union, around the same time. He was then elected to the House of Representatives as a member for Western Kingston 1955-59 and was appointed to the Legislative Council. He was a member of the Senate (and its leader) from 1962 to 1967, at the same time filling the role of Jamaica’s Chief Spokesman on Foreign Affairs as Deputy Chief of Mission at the United Nations. In 1967 he was elected M.P. for Southern Clarendon and appointed Prime Minister on the death of Sir Donald Sangster in 1967. He would serve as Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1967 – 1972 and then as Deputy Prime Minister from 1980 – 1989.