Sun | May 19, 2019

Reid: Emancipation marked end of dark time - Beginning of walk to self-determination

Published:Thursday | August 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Professor Verene Shepherd (left) dancing with members of the Charles Town Maroons during their performing at the Seville Emancipation Jubilee 2018 in St Ann on Tuesday night.
Charles Town Maroons performing at the Seville Emancipation Jubilee 2018 on Tuesday night.
From Left: Junior Minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Alando Terrelonge; portfolio minister Olivia Grange; and Minister of Education Youth and Information Ruel Reid participate in the festivities at the Seville Emancipation Jubilee 2018 in St Ann on Tuesday night.
The Hartford Folk and Cultural Group performs at the annual Seville Emancipation Jubilee, held at the Seville Heritage Park in St Ann on Tuesday night.

Education Minister Ruel Reid has underscored the importance of celebrating emancipation from slavery as Jamaica observed 180 years of freedom on August 1.

Giving the main address at the Emancipation Jubilee at Seville Heritage Park in St Ann on Tuesday night, Reid said that prior to emancipation, Africans were considered "mere property, but emancipation provided freedom to decide on one's destiny. It is for this reason that the celebration of Emancipation Day is important".

Addressing a large gathering on behalf of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Reid noted that the observance of this freedom was important because it predates our independence, dating back to celebrations in 1893.

He said that emancipation not only marked the end of a dark time, but the beginning of the walk to self-determination, true freedom, and the beginning of a modern Jamaican.

Referring to Jamaica as "likkle but talawah", Reid said that not even the United States celebrated emancipation with a public holiday.

"Incidentally ... [in] the United States of America, in spite of their many achievements, to this day, there is not a national public holiday celebrating the freeing of enslaved Africans."

Reid also noted that the celebration of emancipation provides historical context and allows us as a people to look at Emancipation Day with joy, knowing about the sacrifices made by our ancestors to achieve freedom.