JIS News

A Freedom Monument was officially unveiled at Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay, St. James, on Emancipation Day (August 1), by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. This monument was established by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) and the St. James Parish Council, as a tribute to the many ancestors who fought bravely to end slavery nearly 200 years ago.
The structure, which stands 10 feet tall, now adorns the Montego Bay Civic Centre grounds. It displays the inscribed names of 82 freedom fighters who were all eulogized for their bravery and sacrificial actions, which collectively helped to bring about full freedom for all those enslaved.
In unveiling the monument, the Prime Minister said the occasion signified a proud day in Jamaica’s history when “those unsung heroes and heroines fought valiantly against the oppressive and dehumanizing system of slavery.” “The unveiling of this freedom monument to our anti-slavery activists, not just their leaders, is most significant. It gives public recognition to the courage, strength and boundless optimism of the exploited soul who sent the unmistakable message that ‘enough was enough’. We have longed recognized and eulogized the leaders of the slave revolts. We have longed recognized leaders of the struggles against slavery and we have rightly lauded their extraordinary leadership,” the Prime Minister said.
She stressed that the names of those freedom fighters have been engraved on the monument, so that this and future generations could know the names of those they are indebted to for the freedom which they enjoyed today.
“We are engraving their names to provide a link in a great chain of freedom to show that the struggles which still continues today for full emancipation, is a long and arduous one, but one which must continue until its full realization. Many of these our noble ancestors have been condemned to the footnote of our history or ignored altogether. Let us remember them today,” the Prime Minister said.
“Today we say by unveiling this freedom monument that we refuse to conspire with those who deny that the masses make history. It was the slaves themselves that abolished slavery . Let us honour our ancestors not only by the erection of this freedom monument. Let us use this physical monument as a permanent reminder of the greatness and resilience of our people. Let us relish this heritage,” she said.
In his address, Professor Rex Nettleford, said that the St. James Freedom Monument, the first of its kind to be erected in Jamaica, spoke to Jamaicans in modern time about saluting and appreciating those who gave of themselves, so we could become conscious of “the need to hang together in hope is not to be hanged separately in despair.”
“This monument is the sort of memorial dedicated not to an individual revolutionary leader but to the crowd who fought alongside the leader. There is no leader without the led (the follower) and that is a truism which is usually forgotten. Beside and behind our seven National Heroes are seventy times seventy others who sacrificed and dedicated self and family as well as guaranteed sustained application to causes for our growth and development,” he said.
“The monument memorializes all such values of courage, independence of spirit, love of freedom, sacrifice and the self discipline which slavery and the slave trade peaked out of our forebears and made them survived the sufferings. The monument is a timely reminder of many things that constituted the breach which drove the gallant warriors to take action which eventually brought about freedom,” Professor Nettleford added.

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