Being the mom of a mixed-race child has put a new perspective on black history month for me. In addition to learning all of the important historical American figures, I want to make sure he is just as connected to his Jamaican heritage.
Checking off the box that says “black” often implies that the same person is also African American. (There could be a whole other blog post on race versus ethnicity, but that’s for another time.) While this can be true for many, for others it does not capture the rich heritage of their home country. I want to make sure my son is well-educated not only in the important African American figures as he grows up here but also in the important Jamaican figures that helped shape him too.
My husband and I worked together to come up with a list of important Jamaican figures we will share with our son this month (and every month!) Here are some of the people we will be talking about, sharing videos, and finding library books:
Important Black Jamaican Figures
1. Bob Marley
Bob Marley is one of the most well-known and loved musicians from Nine-Mile. He focused his music around the reggae style, making this famous worldwide. As a long-time Rastafarian, he continues to spread his message of love, unity, and peace through his music.
2. Usain Bolt
Considered the fastest men ever, Bolt holds multiple Olympic, World Championship titles, and Guinness World Records. He is originally from Sherwood Content (between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios) and now as a retired sprinter, he continues to inspire the next generation of runners with his foundation.
3. Marcus Garvey
Originally from St. Ann’s Bay, Garvey worked his whole life to enlighten and empower African descendants. The impact of his work around politics and supporting black nationalism, also known as “Garveyism” has had long-lasting effects through today.
4. Nanny of the Maroons
Named one of Jamaica’s National Heroes, Nanny of the Maroons was an amazing military leader in the 18th century. Her leadership over the Maroons, most escaped slaves brought to Jamaica from Africa like herself, was legendary.
5. Samuel Sharpe
Another Jamaican National Hero from St. James, Sharpe organized the famous 1813 Slave Rebellion as a non-violent protest. When this later became violent, he was one of the hundreds killed for their involvement. “I would rather die upon yonder gallows than live in slavery.”
We hope you and your little ones will enjoy learning about just a few of the influential Jamaican figures who have helped to shape history. If you are ready for more, check out Louise Bennett, Claude McKay, and Don Drummond.
This can be just the start of a much deeper learning experience of significant figures from all over the world. Share who else you are learning more about together this month!