We continue to observe August 23 as an important date not only for Jamaicans but for all humanity. On this date in 1791 an uprising on what we now know as Haiti started the process which led to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
We mark this date, on one hand, not as a celebration of slavery but as a reminder of the consequences of ignorance, prejudice and hate. On the other hand, this date reminds us of the awesome power of resilience,
We remember the ancestors who suffered, died and won the battle for the freedoms we now enjoy. We pledge to honour their blood, sweat and tears by ensuring that never again will we allow prejudice and hate to so harm our people or any people.
We also recommit on this day to doing all within our power to obtain reparations for the horrendous crimes committed against our people during the period of enslavement. The consequences of enslavement are still evident in our society today. We must confront them. We must repair the damage. And we must ensure that this terrible transgression against our ancestors is addressed.
As we work to achieve redress, let us be guided by the legacy of love, peace and forgiveness taught to us by our ancestors who never wished for a day when they would enslave their enslaver; but rather a day when the freedom of all humanity would be recognized.