Garvey Family Donates National Hero’s Medal to Jamaica

Photo: R. Fraser Photos

Story Highlights

  • They are to be displayed in the museum housed in the cultural and educational institution dedicated to the life and teachings of Marcus Garvey.
  • Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, who accepted the medal, said Garvey remains one of the most influential national figures.
  • The refurbished building was officially reopened on Heroes Day, October 2003 and renamed Liberty Hall: The legacy of Marcus Garvey.

The insignia of the Order of National Hero, which was presented posthumously to Marcus Garvey when he was made Jamaica’s first National Hero in 1969, has been donated by his family to Liberty Hall.

The National Hero’s son, Dr. Julius Garvey, handed over the national medal of honour, along with a bible owned by Garvey, during a ceremony held on Thursday (January 5) at Liberty Hall’s King Street location in downtown Kingston.

They are to be displayed in the museum housed in the cultural and educational institution dedicated to the life and teachings of Marcus Garvey.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, expressed gratitude to the Garvey family.

She said the donation is a “selfless act that speaks to the level of nationalism and pride that the Garvey family ascribes to Jamaica as the homeland of Marcus Mosiah Garvey”.

“I envision that the memorabilia, particularly the national medal, will be a source of fascination for many and will serve to further enhance the educational experience of the persons who utilise Liberty Hall for research about this great man,” Ms. Grange said in a message read by Chairman of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), Laleta Davis-Mattis.
She pointed to the need for the country’s youth to be “mindful of the sacrifice and relentless commitment of our late National Hero to the cause of black unity and empowerment”.
Former Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, who accepted the medal, said Garvey remains one of the most influential national figures.

“In my mind, he was the most important man in the history of Jamaica. He was important because of his message… and the way in which he passed on this message,” he said.
Mr. Seaga played a principal role in the return of the body of Marcus Garvey to Jamaica and in establishing the nation’s highest order, that of National Hero, of which Garvey was the first recipient.

As Prime Minister, Mr. Seaga also lobbied for a United States Presidential Pardon of Garvey on his 1923 mail fraud charges. He also facilitated the acquisition of Liberty Hall, which was purchased in 1987 by the Government of Jamaica through the JNHT and later declared a national monument.

Liberty Hall was established in 1923 as the Kingston Division of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and the African Communities League (UNIA-ACL), which was formed by Marcus Garvey. The UNIA-ACL advocates the independence of people of African descent.

It was restored by the Ministry of Education through the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), the JNHT and the Friends of Liberty Hall.

The refurbished building was officially reopened on Heroes Day, October 2003 and renamed Liberty Hall: The legacy of Marcus Garvey.

It houses the Marcus Mosiah Garvey Multimedia Museum, the Garvey Research/Reference Library, Garvey Multimedia Computer Centre and the Garvey Great Hall.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born in St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann on August 17, 1887. He was conferred with the Order of the National Hero in 1969 as per the second schedule of the National Honours and Awards Act.

Garvey dedicated his life to improving the conditions of black people around the world.

A docu-film on the life of Marcus Garvey is in development, spearheaded by Jamaican-born filmmaker Roy Anderson and Dr. Julius Garvey.

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