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Marcus Garvey and reggae music - Birthday lecture today

Published:Monday | August 17, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Reggae singer, Fred Locks, scored with the song Black Star Liner in 1976.
Marcus Garvey

Liberty Hall will today celebrate the 133rd anniversary of the birth of National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey with the 11th Annual Marcus Mosiah Garvey Lecture, at the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) Lecture Hall, East Street, Kingston.

Under the theme, Race First and Black Lives Matter, Professor William H. Boone, professor of political science, Clark Atlanta University, will explore race and public policies.

The lecture will begin at 10 a.m. and will be streamed live on Liberty Hall’s Facebook and the IOJ’s YouTube pages.

Garvey, a pan-Africanist and visionary, has been the inspiration for many reggae artistes throughout the decades and is hailed by Rastafarians in particular as a prophet. Reggae group Burning Spear released an album titled Marcus Garvey in 1975 and Bob Marley has used Garvey’s quotes in his music.

From a 1937 Garvey speech, “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind,” Marley got one of his most memorable lines. In his hit song, Redemption Song, he states, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”

Garvey’s Black Star Liner, a shipping line created to facilitate the transportation of goods and eventually African Americans throughout the African global economy became a key part of his contribution to the Back-to-Africa movement. It has also been kept alive through the lyrics of reggae troubadours.

Massive success

Reggae singer Fred Locks enjoyed massive success with a 1976 song titled Black Star Liners, which has been called one of “the most important songs in reggae music of the 1970s”.

The 1977 reggae album by Culture, Two Sevens Clash, featured a song called Black Starliner Must Come.

The Black Star Line was also commemorated by blues singers such as Hazel Meyers and Rosa Henderson; by the musical group Brand Nubian (on their 1993 album In God We Trust), and by Ranking Dread with Black Starlina on his Kunta Kinte Roots album.