PM hails George William Gordon
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has hailed the contributions of National Hero George William Gordon to Jamaica's development as an independent nation.
She noted that as an elected member of Jamaica's House of Assembly during the 1800s, Gordon advocated resistance to the oppressive governing regime of the day, and lobbied the support of his peers to create greater opportunities for participation in the electoral process by the disenfranchised.
Simpson Miller said consequent on these events, "we (now) must cherish the right to vote, and ensure that the elections are free and fair, and free from fear".
The prime minister also recounted stories of Gordon's contribution to the establishment of Christianity in Jamaica, which, she said, indicated that "wherever he established a business, he erected a church building".
She was speaking at a special commemorative service marking the 200th anniversary of the national hero's birth, at Boulevard Baptist Church in Kingston, on Sunday, December 27.
Gordon, born to a wealthy planter, Joseph Gordon, and his slave Ann Rattray in 1815, was elected to the House of Assembly in 1844 as the representative for St Thomas.
His advocacy of resistance against the oppressive government at the time led to his arrest as an alleged instigator of the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865.
Gordon was illegally tried, found guilty on what has been deemed insufficient evidence, and sentenced to death. He was subsequently executed in October 1865.
In noting that the national hero's resoluteness has redounded to Jamaica's benefit, Simpson Miller encouraged persons across the society to follow his example by making positive contributions to national development.
LEFT A RICH LEGACY
"We have come a far way since then, and we should ensure that the Charter of the Fundamental Rights 2011 is upheld based on equality of all and justice for all. Gordon has left a rich legacy as legislator, businessman, and church leader. He should be emulated and remembered," Simpson Miller said.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (Constitutional Amendment) Act, 2011, accords certain entitlements to all Jamaican citizens.
These include the right to life, liberty and security; freedom of thought, conscience, belief and observance of political doctrines; freedom of expression; the right to seek, receive, distribute or disseminate information, opinions; and the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of (i) being male or female; (ii) race, place of origin, social class, colour, religion or political opinions, among other provisions.
Jamaica's parliament building is named in honour of Gordon.