HOPETON SAUNDERS lives next door to the yard once occupied by Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillor for the Islington division, Exman Young. He lives along Back Road in the St Mary community. There stands a concrete monument which reads: "This tablet is erected to the honour and blessed memory of Caleb Barrett, Archibald Franklin, Thaddeus Smith, Felix McLeggon who lost their lives on June 3, 1938, in the struggle for the cause of labour."
Saunders, popularly known as 'Boyo', recalled that it was JLP Member of Parliament for St Mary North, Wycliffe Martin, who commissioned the monument and contracted a local man, Arthur Palmer, to design it and have it built.
Saunders, who was a member of Palmer's team that did construction work all over the parish, could recall the year it was built, even though he was lead mason on the project.
Working to Palmer's instructions, he, along with three other workers, undertook construction on land then owned by a Bella Christie, who, much earlier, had donated the land for the erection of a labour hall - a meeting place where party members could host events. However, for reasons unknown to him, this was never done. He said that things have been much different since the death of former prime minister, Hugh Shearer.
Saunders told The Gleaner that Martin usually hosted a civic ceremony to coincide with the anniversary of the riots. After Martin's death, Shearer carried on the tradition with much fanfare. It included drumming and marching to the nearby Islington Square, where the event would culminate in a rally, usually on May 23, observed annually as Labour Day.
However, since the passing of Shearer in 2004, Saunders said no events associated with the monument have been held, and no one has shown any interest in it or events associated with it.
Marlene Pusey, regional manager for the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's Eastern Zone, is of the view that more needs to be done to keep alive the memory of these four unsung heroes, with a view to getting Jamaicans - and residents of Islington, in particular - to appreciate their contribution to modern Jamaica.