Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Rev Al Sharpton urges unity among black people at Morant Bay Rebellion Memorial

Published:Wednesday | October 25, 2023 | 6:31 PM
American civil rights activist, Rev Al Sharpton, speaking via a video presentation at a memorial service for Paul Bogle and the Morant Bay War on Tuesday, October 24. The event was held at Colonel Cove in Morant Bay. - Contributed photo.

Renowned American civil rights activist, Reverend Al Sharpton, delivered a message of unity among black people at a memorial service for Paul Bogle and the 1865 Morant Bay rebellion on Tuesday.

Sharpton, who was unable to attend the event physically but addressed the large gathering at Colonel Cove in Morant Bay via a video presentation, said that black people continue to face oppression, double standards, lack of funds, and lack of resources even in present day.

Noting that there is strength in numbers, he said it is time for people of African descent to unite and rise above petty arguments and disagreements.

“We are at a level now that we can reach across the diaspora and work together and put our strengths together. We must realise that we are as strong as we are together. It is time for us to lock arms,” he pointed out.

He said it is time to rise to a higher level and complete the journey started by Bogle and the other ancestors.

“We don't have to agree on every political point, but we have the dignity of knowing that people [gave] their lives for us and we owe them more than taking cheap shots at each other,” he noted.

Meanwhile,  Sharpton challenged the people of St Thomas to emulate Bogle by finding their purpose in life and fighting for a cause.

“When he fought there, he fought for black people and oppressed people everywhere. Bogle lost himself in the cause of liberating his people. Bogle lost himself in the cause of breaking the shackles of oppression. What does your life mean? What have you found that you are alive for?” he asked.

A member of the Baptist denomination like Bogle, the Reverend underscored that the fight of Paul Bogle must not be forgotten, especially as generations achieve personal success.

“I look at those that have made it into some level of political power, economic stability, some level of educational achievement and I want to say to them, 'don't forget. If it wasn't for people like Paul Bogle, you would not have the title you have',” he pointed out.

“Don't be so impressed with yourself that you forget the people who paid the price to get Independence, that paid the price with their life to open doors for you,”  Sharpton continued.

He said that heroes like Bogle, having paid the price, deserve to have their story told “because their story changed our story”.

The memorial service, put on by the St Thomas Municipal Corporation and Morant Bay Mayor, Hubert Williams, commemorated the 158th anniversary of the 1865 rebellion, in which Paul Bogle sought to challenge the oppression being faced by the people of the parish and Jamaica in general.

He was captured, convicted, and hanged on October 24, 1865, in the Morant Bay courthouse.

For his sacrifice, Bogle was named a National Hero by the Jamaican Government in 1969.

On October 11, Jamaica marked the first Paul Bogle Day, to be observed annually on the day of the rebellion.

- JIS News

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