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JIS News

Sixty eight years since his passing, the legacy of Marcus Garvey continues to resonate with young people, through Liberty Hall and his teachings of development of self, family and community.
This was stated by Donna McFarlane, Executive Director and Curator at Liberty Hall, in an interview with JIS News about the organization’s Summer Art Programme, which is being held from July 7 to August 15.
“The response of the children has been wonderful. You can ask any child about Marcus Garvey and he or she will be able to tell you something about his life, tell you a saying, they will be able to respond positively,” she said.
The Summer Art Programme is one avenue through which Liberty Hall communicates with youngsters about Marcus Garvey, Jamaica’s first National Hero.
“Summer Art 2008 has to do with the continuation of our mosaic on the theme of Garvey – Family and Community. When we talk about the theme, we introduce the children to the concept of Garveyism,” Mrs. McFarlane explained.
She pointed out that the introduction is conveyed through films and books on Garvey and his philosophy.
“We then take them down to the National Gallery, and there they look, with the help of the educational officer, at pictures that feature family and community. They then do their own drawings in their sketch books,” the Executive Director said.
“The teachers then choose from their drawings what should go on the wall, what best represents Garvey, Family and Community,” Mrs. McFarlane added.
The six-week programme targets children aged 7 to 17 years, especially those who hail from the surrounding communities of Downtown Kingston, where Liberty Hall is located. Participants are also accommodated from as far away as Bull Bay, St. Andrew.
The 67 registered participants are exposed to Art and Craft, a history of Garvey and Africa, as well as constructive social behaviours.
“When the children come in, they are registered and we tell them what the rules of the programme are, which means no cursing, no fighting, proper clothing, among others. They must also treat their peers in a similar way as they treat their teachers, with respect,” Mrs. McFarlane said.
“We also provide counselling through counsellors from the Jamaica Theological College and we have the Disputes Resolution Foundation come in and speak to them about how to settle disputes without fighting,” added the Executive Director.
With many negative stereotypes of black people and Africa as well as the persistence of the bleaching phenomena in Jamaica, Mrs. McFarlane stressed that it is important to communicate Garvey’s message of self esteem as well as a positive image of Africa to our young people.
“It is extremely important for them to learn about Garvey and his message of self reliance, self confidence and positive self identity in these times, when so many people continue to bleach their skin. It is also important for them to learn about the history of Africa, because when I asked them what they thought of Africa they said jungle, disease, poverty and misery,” bemoaned Mrs. McFarlane.
“They have no idea that Africa has cities and nations, that Africa was well developed even before Europe was developed. This gives a sense of self esteem when they hear this and know that black people’s history didn’t begin with slavery,” the Executive Director said.
She further explained that when the children were shown films, books and pictures on Africa, the older children became enamoured with African masks and consequently did a whole set of masks in their sketch books.
Liberty Hall, which is located at 76 King Street, was built by Marcus Garvey in 1923 and refurbished in 2003. Its main purpose is to “inform the public about the work of Jamaica’s first National Hero and to use his philosophy and opinions to inspire, excite, and positively affect the self-identity of Jamaican people, while creating social and economic wealth.”