Caribbean Series Sample Documents
Volume XI: October 1918--?
Thomas Duruo et al. to Rear Admiral
Samuel S. Robinson, U.S. Navy
San Pedro de Macoris
September 5th, 1921
We the und[er]signed do hereby thru these presents solicit your attention to hear us in the following occurance which took place on the evening of September 3rd at 9 o'clock P.M.
Owing to our grievance we desire to bring to your notice that on the 23rd of December we obtained the necessary permission of the Military Governor and of the Civil Governor of this locality for the organization of our Society known under the name of united improvement association of negroes [Universal Negro Improvement Association].
We therefore organized ourselves as a civil and law abiding people according to the Mandate of the Cons[t]itution of said Society of which we have the honor of presenting your inspection.
After [having] been on a working basis from the aforementioned date, we have been unfortunately forcibly led to face a dis[ap]pointment from the fact that on Sept[em]ber 3rd our President, General Secretary and Members including females and minors were arrested, Chart Documents and Building seized, whilst Officers and Members of the afore mentioned Society were singing sacred pieces.
The President asked the Military and Civil Officers on what grounds they were arrested, but the only reply that he received was, "close your mouth." They were all marched to prison where they are detained and kept up to this moment without knowledge of having committed any crime or violated any of the Laws issued by the Military or Civil Governor.
We therefore pray that your Excellency will give this matter your kind attention and Judgement for we believe that there is no just cause for it. We remain, Sir[,] Yours respectfully
DNA, RG 38, file M-201-M202. TL, recipient's copy.
Editorial by Marcus Garvey in the New Jamaican^1
[Kingston, July 9, 1932]
The New Jamaican
"The New Jamaican" makes its bow to the Jamaica public. One may be tempted to ask---"What of THE NEW JAMAICAN?" The answer is that it is a new daily evening paper dedicated to the development and general uplift of Jamaica and its people. It shall at all times, without fear, advocate the rights of the people and defend and protect them on those constitutional privileges to which they are entitled.
"The New Jamaican" has not come into existence as a rival of our contemporaries nor in any way draw swords on them, but to co-operate with all and sundry to make Jamaica a better place for its sons and daughters and those who are residents thereof.
We come forward without any hostility or illwill toward anyone. We shall do everything in our power to help the Government to bring about a better order of things; considering that it is not only Government duty to initiate relief for its citizens, but it is imperatively the duty of the citizens themselves to instruct the Government on their needs. In this latter respect we shall not fail to do our duty. No Government anywhere is perfect. We can only get the best out of Government everywhere and anywhere when the citizens of themselves are sufficiently alert as to force their needs upon Government and in a constitutional way see that they are attended to.
Jamaica is a fine country from a natural viewpoint---it is a terrible country from economic observations. To consider how the people of Jamaica live, that is, the bulk of the population, is to wonder if we, at all, have any system of economics. We shall endeavour to enlighten the country on the possibility of creating a better order of things for everybody through a system of education in economics---a thing not generally known nor taught in Jamaica.
We hope for the co-operation of every Jamaican and every lover of Jamaica in the programme we have set out to accomplish.
The Jamaica Spirit
We are Jamaicans and we know the Jamaica spirit. It is that of killing everything Jamaican. We do hope that there will be a new departure in the attitude adopted toward "The New Jamaican."
When we look around we see very little representative of real Jamaicans. We may be criticized for saying this, but we think from our deeper minds and not from the shallow surface. The customary way in Jamaica is to flatter and not to tell the truth. We have developed hypocrisy to a science and the result is, that as a people we are what we are. We may not be able to see ourselves and so we think that everything is right, but when the stranger compares Jamaica with other countries then the shame comes home to proud Jamaicans, who realize that we don't amount to much from a social, industrial, political and general economic point of view.
Our dirty rags to be seen in the towns and on the hills are poor recommendations of our social development. Our shacks, tin houses and huts surely do not tend to lift us to the social level of an advanced civilization. Our vile language and our out-door manner and behaviour surely would not place us in company with those who respect culture and social refinement. These are the things that tear at the heart of patriotic Jamaicans; these are the things that make us feel dissatisfied with our country and we are not ashamed to say these are the things that have caused us to launch "THE NEW JAMAICAN."
We want to see a general standard of decency in our country; we want to see more family and domestic happiness; we want to see every citizen of this country as happy as human beings can be anywhere, caring not to what class he belongs.
We want rich, middle class and poor to have a common interest in each other and to work co-operatively with each other; not for the rich to exploit the poor, nor for the poor to hate the rich, but for everybody to feel that he is a Jamaican and is as much his brother's keeper as his brother realizes that he is also his keeper. We want the spirit of national comradeship as is found among the English, among the Americans, among the French, among all na[tions] who take a pride in their country and their countrymen. L[et] us unite to accomplish this and Jamaica shall indeed become a better place for all of us.
Printed in the New Jamaican, 9 July 1932.
1. The New Jamaican was published from July 1932 until September 1933, when it ceased publication for financial reasons. The editorial policy of the paper was conservative and concentrated on reforms that could be instituted by the colonial regime rather than on race consciousness or Jamaican independence. Garvey was forced to suspend publication after he lost his linotype machines and printing presses to creditors when the landlord, who managed the property where his printing plant was located, claimed back rent that was due for the building (Robert A. Hill, "Introduction," The Black Man: A Monthly Journal of Negro Thought: and Opinion, comp. Robert A. Hill [Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus-Thomson, 1975], pp. 14--15).
Article in the Jamaica Times
[Kingston, August 25, 1934]
Unwanted Guests Should Be Spat On
Mr. Marcus Garvey at Meeting of U.N.I.A. Convention Again Attacks "Ginger"^1
Meetings in connection with the Convention being held at Edelweiss Park continued this week. One day was given up to a discussion of Music. In previous meetings, Mr. Marcus Garvey said at Monday night's Court, they had covered the range of Art and Literature. What they decided during the Convention at Edelweiss, he told his audience, would be seriously considered by the Governments of the world. The only reason why the U.N.I.A. and the convention meetings were not regarded with greater seriousness by the people of Jamaica was that they were ignorant; they were two hundred years behind the times.
Mr. Garvey gave his audience to understand that the Negro was on the threshold of a new attitude towards other peoples. He spoke at length on the theme of the Negro's relations with other races and adjured his hearers not to thrust themselves into company where their presence might be unwanted and where they had not been invited. He stressed so hard and so long the point that to go without an express invitation to any place was a horrible offence; here he reiterated so often that he would recommend kicking out and spitting upon any such, that the [Jamaica] TIMES reporter, who had solicited an invitation to the proceedings, became squeamish.
Mr. Garvey could not resist an attack on "Ginger" and launched out in much the same style he had adopted on a previous occasion. He challenged "Ginger" to appear at Edelweiss Park, saying that he hid behind a no[m] deplume and was afraid to show himself.
In his opening speech Mr. Garvey also referred to the Ras Tafari cult, speaking of them with contempt.^2
Several of Mr. Garvey's poems, which had been, he said, most admirably set to music by Mr. B. de C. Reid, were rendered by a choir.
Printed in the Jamaica Times, 25 August 1934.
1. Ginger was a pseudonym used by an Englishman named Major Caws, author of a column called "Pepper Pot" in the Jamaica Times in the 1930s (Ken Post, Arise Ye Starvelings: The Jamaican Labour Rebellion of 1938 and its Aftermath [The Hague, Boston, London: Martinus Nijhoff, 1978], p. 197, n. 51).
2. Rastafarianism emerged in Jamaica in the early 1930s following the November 1930 coronation of Ras Tafari as Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia. Some Jamaicans, in reading of the coronation, interpreted it as a fulfillment of the biblical prophecy of the coming of a King of Kings upon horseback, and thus regarded Haile Selassie as a living god (Rev. 19:11--16). H. Archibald Dunkley, Joseph Hibbert, and Leonard Howell were among those who preached the new doctrine in the early 1930s. All three men had previous ties to the Garvey movement. The first two concentrated their preaching in Kingston, while Howell worked in the rural areas of St. Thomas Parish. Howell acquired a strong following among poor peasants and squatters who had been the victims of the hurricane of 1933, and among the rural black working class in St. Thomas. Howell targeted the year 1934 as a significant one in which Haile Selassie would visit Jamaica, claiming that in August 1934 a mass repatriation movement would begin, with black Jamaicans traveling to Ethiopia. Howell's teachings had radical connotations to colonial authorities, who saw his call for allegiance to the Ethiopian leader as a supreme king as a potential focus of rebellion against King George V. Middle class Jamaicans also frowned on the movement's original theology and its ritual smoking of ganja, or marijuana. Accordingly, Howell was charged with sedition in January 1934 and sentenced to two years imprisonment. Despite the government crackdown on Rastafarian leaders, the cult's influence continued to increase, not only in the Morant Bay area frequented by Howell but also in the poor black sections of West Kingston (Post, Arise Ye Starvelings, pp. 163--167; see also Robert A. Hill, "Dread History: Leonard P. Howell and Millenarian Visions in Early Rastafari Religion in Jamaica," Epoché 9 : 30--71; M. G. Smith, Roy Augier, and Rex Nettleford, The Ras Tafari Movement in Kingston, Jamaica [Kingston: University College of the West Indies, 1960]; L. E. Barrett, The Rastafarians: A Study in Messianic Cultism in Jamaica [Rio Pedras, Puerto Rico: University of Puerto Rico, 1968]).
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