No par­don re­ally nec­es­sary for Gar­vey

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY -


IWRITE in re­spect of the move­ment to ob­tain a pres­i­den­tial par­don from the United States for Na­tional Hero Mar­cus Mosiah Gar­vey.

On the sur­face, this might seem to be a good thing, but if we should ex­am­ine our mo­tives against a his­tor­i­cal back­drop, we might con­sider dif­fer­ently.

Gar­vey was revered as one of the great­est philoso­phers of our time, with so­cial sci­en­tists still weigh­ing the mon­u­men­tal im­pact he had on the world. Be­sides Ja­maica and the United States, his teach­ings were also em­braced in Cuba, Eng­land, Wales, Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries such as Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Venezuela, and African coun­tries, namely, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Namibia and South Africa.

In­deed, his was the voice of a prophet, a world-class leader, a vi­sion­ary who was not akin to or­di­nary men. Gar­vey, by his deeds, was larger than life. With or with­out a crim­i­nal record, he stands as one of the world’s great­est thinkers and vi­sion­ar­ies, with a con­tri­bu­tion that is larger than life. His phi­los­o­phy was em­bod­ied in his or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Universal Ne­gro Im­prove­ment As­so­ci­a­tion. This move­ment to ob­tain a par­don be­lies the very teach­ings of this great man who clam­oured for black pride, self-suf­fi­ciency and dig­nity.


Of even greater sig­nif­i­cance, Gar­vey’s teach­ings cau­tioned against men­tal slav­ery, which he cited as one of the great­est threats to our lib­er­a­tion. A par­don can only be sought from a cred­i­ble or a re­spected source. We are seek­ing a par­don from a sys­tem where in­sti­tu­tion­alised racism con­tin­ues to weaken the very struc­tures of black lib­er­a­tion, where mur­der and bru­tal­ity con­tinue un­abated.

Tim­ing is of the essence. Seek­ing a par­don makes a mock­ery of the act it­self. I be­lieve Gar­vey would see this as sheer trivia, as his con­tri­bu­tion tran­scends it all. There’s noth­ing to be ac­com­plished here.

Gar­vey will re­main our hero, an icon for black peo­ple across the world, in life as in death. Gar­vey’s crim­i­nal record is an in­dict­ment on the very sys­tem that gave it to him. They should be the ones clam­our­ing to give this par­don. JOANNE SIMP­SON Au­thor, Pub­lisher joan­nes­imp­son­ja­maica@ya­

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