Sat | Apr 17, 2021

Clean Garvey's record at home first

Published:Tuesday | August 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer


SENIOR LECTURER at the University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI) and radio talk show host, Dr Orville Taylor has chided public officials who are calling on the American government to pardon Jamaica's national hero Marcus Garvey, yet at the same time are failing to clean his record in Jamaica.

In addressing the annual civic ceremony to honour the late hero, held Sunday in St Ann's Bay, Taylor also called for prison reform, especially for how dark skinned people are imprisoned.

Declaring that Garvey was sent to prison for "absolutely no reason," Taylor said Jamaica should first solve the situation at home before we seek to address it in the United States.

"Next time I hear anybody who is in any official position say anything about the American government's failure to pardon Garvey for the travesty of where they accused him and found him guilty on the trumped-up charge of mail fraud - shut up and let's focus on what we should do here!" Taylor declared.

"We need to clean Garvey's record and apologise to him and his defenders. Garvey went to prison for doing nothing wrong. We have a lot to apologise to Garvey and his legacy for."

Taylor said Garvey went to prison because he dared to say that judges should be held to a higher level of scrutiny.

Relatively low

"Even though (35 per cent corruption index) is relatively low compared to the rest of the region, six per cent of Jamaicans surveyed said in 2013 that they had paid a bribe to the judiciary," Taylor stated.

"I know many of you have been to court and have seen some judgment that have been extremely strange, and we're not talking about a jury that you can sway, there have been many times when some judgement don't match (the crime).

"Garvey went to prison because he dared to say judges should be held to a higher level of scrutiny. Garvey did nothing wrong."

Taylor said Garvey clearly understood things that, even today, our Government and our Opposition don't quite get.

He told the gathering that one of the biggest betrayals of Garvey was not by, what he termed, the fictitious Bag-o-Wire, but by the two major political parties, People's National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party.

This, he said, was through the creation of garrison communities.

"One of the biggest betrayal of Garvey was what we did with our system of governance. In 1944, we had a wonderful opportunity - we got Universal Adult Suffrage here in Jamaica more than 20 years before black people in the United States. And by the time we reached 1974, we started creating garrison communities, forcing people to vote Labourite or vote PNP or we kill you, etc. Can you imagine? Marcus Garvey, in 1929 said, anyone who forced anybody to vote in any particular way should be imprisoned. We betrayed Garvey when we created garrison communities."

The civic ceremony honoured Garvey on the 127th anniversary of his birth.