WASHINGTON D.C. – Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Anthony Hylton has said that the government is enlisting the support of Jamaicans residing in the United States, to secure a full pardon from the United States Government for Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero.
Delivering the keynote address at the 44th Anniversary Independence Ball, put on by the Jamaican Association of Maryland and Baltimore Cricket and Social Club at Martin’s West, on Saturday, August 5, Minister Hylton said that, “the Government of Jamaica, under the leadership of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, intends to join this worthy cause in the search for truth and justice”.
“She asks that the entire Diaspora movement join the movement already taken up by the US Congress for a full pardon for Marcus Mosiah Garvey,” he added.
Senator Hylton said that the country had elevated Marcus Garvey to the lofty status of National Hero, and his life could not be condemned or caricatured as a simple criminal. “Marcus Garvey was a victim of his times and of unscrupulous government officials. He was no less than the great American and Pan-Africanist leaders that he spawned, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Kwame Nkrumah,” he added.
Marcus Garvey was convicted in 1923 by the United States government of mail fraud and was deported to Jamaica in 1927, despite millions of signatures petitioning for his full pardon, including the signatures of 9 of the 12 jurors who had convicted him.
The movement for the pardon has been on-going for some time, having started by members of his family and of the organization he founded – the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). This movement to pardon Mr. Garvey has been joined by members of the US Congress, led by New York Congressman, Charles Rangel and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Senator Hylton told the over 500 guests that the “racially charged atmosphere of the 1920s through to the 1960s and 1970s has given way to a more enlightened racial atmosphere today. But, the racial and ethnic tensions of the period, we believe, provided the very context and reason for the persecution and prosecution of Marcus Garvey”.
“The National Hero’s work, here in the United States and elsewhere, as a philosopher, mass mobilizer for justice, and progenitor of the Pan-African Movement, is recorded in the annals of history,” he noted.
Minister Hylton said that Jamaicans overseas have used their positions to influence decision makers on issues of major concern to Jamaica and other Caribbean nations, as well as on issues of concern to the Jamaican and Caribbean Diasporas here in the United States.
“I applaud you for your efforts in the past, and I entreat you to become even more active in the civic life of your communities in the future. As you know, decisions taken here in the United States can profoundly affect us back home. You must, therefore, become a part of that decision-making process. It is your duty, indeed it is your civic responsibility, as citizens of this country, not to be on the sidelines of power but become serious players in the game,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that the Government has been a catalyst in helping to forge a way forward in encouraging the development of the Jamaica Diaspora movement.
“The Jamaican Government is fully committed to the Diaspora movement. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller gave a clear message of the interest and intent of the Government of Jamaica as a partner to the second Diaspora Conference in Kingston in June.
It is for organizations such as the Jamaica Association of Maryland, and similar organizations throughout the Diaspora, to become an integral part of the new thrust to organize the Jamaican Diaspora to give it a more coherent and effective participatory role in Jamaica’s development,” he said.
He appealed to Jamaicans residing in Baltimore to join hands with other Jamaicans in the Diaspora and friends of Jamaica, “to ensure the ultimate success of this worthy endeavor”.
Among those in attendance at the ball were Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley, who brought greetings; Sharon Miller, Deputy Chief of Missions, Jamaican Embassy; Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, Maryland House of Delegates; Rick Nugent, President, Jamaican Association of Maryland, and Megan Godfrey, President, Baltimore Cricket and Social Club.