Miss Lou Ar­chives launched at Na­tional Li­brary

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Ja­son Cross Gleaner Writer ja­son.cross@glean­erjm.com

JA­MAICANS WILL now have ac­cess to a per­sonal col­lec­tion of un­pub­lished ma­te­rial, in­clud­ing pho­to­graphs, record­ings, di­aries and let­ters that were all a part of the life and works of one of Ja­maica’s cul­tural icons, Louise Ben­nett Cover­ley, pop­u­larly called Miss Lou.

The Na­tional Li­brary of Ja­maica yes­ter­day launched The Miss Lou Ar­chives at its of­fices on East Street in down­town Kingston.

Miss Lou was born in Kingston, Ja­maica in 1919. She died on July 26, 2006 in Toronto, Canada.

Through­out her years, she was a well-recog­nised poet and a ma­jor ad­vo­cate for the use of Ja­maican di­alect. She also con­ducted nu­mer­ous lec­tures at uni­ver­si­ties over­seas.

Min­is­ter of Cul­ture, Gen­der Af­fairs, En­ter­tain­ment and Sports Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange said that Miss Lou taught Ja­maicans how to value their cul­ture.


“She taught us to value the cre­ation of our peo­ple, to ac­cept our ways of ex­pres­sion, to celebrate our unique Ja­maican ‘swag’ and spirit and to be con­fi­dent in who we are. As Ja­maicans, we have de­vel­oped con­fi­dence in our­selves and in our com­pa­tri­ots. Thanks in large part to the lessons of Miss Lou, the mother of Ja­maican cul­ture,” Grange said. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange (right), min­is­ter of cul­ture, gen­der af­fairs, en­ter­tain­ment and sport, greets Miss Lou’s son, Fabian Cover­ley (cen­tre), and Pro­fes­sor Mervyn Mor­ris (left), Poet Lau­re­ate of Ja­maica, dur­ing yes­ter­day’s launch of Miss Lou Ar­chives at the Na­tional Li­brary of Ja­maica.

She con­tin­ued: “Miss Lou can­not be con­fined to our glo­ri­ous past. She is still rel­e­vant to­day. Her legacy lives on in us and is very much alive at the Na­tional Li­brary ... . Miss Lou has played so many roles in Ja­maican cul­ture.”

Joy Dou­glas, chair­man of the Board of Man­age­ment at the Na­tional Li­brary of Ja­maica, said Miss Lou had a way of mak­ing peo­ple feel good about them­selves through her work.

“I am a prod­uct of Miss Lou. The key thing about it is that Miss Lou al­ways tried to make us feel good about our­selves, even when she spoke about some of the very se­ri­ous is­sues that we con­front in this so­ci­ety. She found a way to smile about it and speak about it in a man­ner that would cause us to trans­form our­selves, so as to trans­form our so­ci­ety,” Dou­glas said.

Miss Lou’s son, Fabian Cover­ley, quoted a line from the late Amer­i­can poet, Maya An­gelou, to ex­press what his mother meant to him and peo­ple in gen­eral.

“I quote from a friend, the late Maya An­gelou: ‘I’ve learnt that peo­ple will for­get what you said, peo­ple will for­get what you did but peo­ple will not for­get how you made them feel.’ Miss Lou made us feel happy, proud to be who we are, and that feel­ing has been with me all my life. With the ar­chive now at the Na­tional Li­brary, it will fa­cil­i­tate keep­ing the mem­o­ries of Miss Lou alive,” he said.


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