Exhibition Highlights Jamaican Impact on Harlem Renaissance


Scores of Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica braved the inclement weather on Thursday evening, February 24, 2005, to attend a Black History Month forum and exhibition at the Consulate General in New York.
The forum and exhibition titled ‘The Jamaican Impact on the Harlem Renaissance,’ chronicled the period from 1919 to 1930, when people of African descent migrated in large numbers to urban centres in the United States such as New York City.
That movement encouraged a bold, new creativity in the arts and culture, which spawned a faculty of radical black leaders and social activists, among them Jamaicans Marcus Mosiah Garvey and Claude McKay.
“No one can argue with the singular strides that Marcus Garvey made in publicizing the plight of Black people, nor can any reasonable argument be made to dispute his myriad accomplishments, despite past attempts to malign his reputation and integrity,” said Consul General Dr. Basil Bryan at the launch.
He noted that as Jamaica’s first poet laureate, Claude McKay’s writings depicted much of the black experience at the time and provided an inspiration to other Renaissance poets.
Panelists Jose Richards, self-styled Garveyite and president of Sons & Daughters of Jamaica, Inc. and Winston ‘Burning Spear’ Rodney, joined the call for a change in the Jamaican school curriculum to include more of Garvey’s teachings and philosophy.
During his presentation, Mr. Rodney, wearing both the Jamaican and Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) flags on his shirt, electrified the audience with two songs from his 1975 album ‘Marcus Garvey’, including the very popular ‘No One Remember Ole Marcus Garvey,’ and won a standing ovation.
As he recounted how Garvey’s teachings have influenced his music, the 1999 Grammy winner noted that he was humbled to be in the company of his people anywhere. The event was an inspiration for him, he said.
Two of Claude McKay’s poems ‘If We Must Die’ and Harlem Shadows’ penned during the Renaissance decade, were read by Karena Chambers and Lyndon Taylor, both Jamaican nationals.
Special guests at the event included Harold Robertson, Consul General of Trinidad & Tobago; Cosmus Cozier, Consul General of St. Vincent & The Grenadines; Rev. Canon & Mrs. Calvin McIntyre of the Good Shepherd Church, Bronx; Norma Taylor-Roberts, Jamaica’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations and Leonard Morris, Jamaican artist.
The exhibition ends on Monday, February 28, 2005, and can be viewed at The Jamaican Consulate, 767 Third Avenue, second floor, from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

JIS Social