Below is an article from the Jamaica Gleaner of 29 September 1930.
“Mr Marcus Garvey at Old Harbour”
“Last night quite a representative of citizens met in the Ludford School [now Old Harbour Primary] and listened with marked attention to a most inspiring address, delivered by Mr Marcus Garvey. Such an address was never heard in this community before.
The school room was beautifully decorated for the occasion and the meeting was opened by the singing of the hymn Onward Christian, followed by two vocal selections given by Mrs Lurleen Hewey.
The subject of Mr Garvey’s speech was “The Purpose of Living” in which he urged upon the negro race, to come forward and do something for themselves. He said the black race was a failure, because they had done nothing for themselves as yet, all they were doing was an imitation of the white race.
All other races he said had developed great things of their own which they are proud of and could boast of today. He then made mention of great men of the world today, who he said, were bound to be proud of their race.
Mr Garvey closed his address by asking the black race to come forward and begin to do something to HELP THEMSELVES and they should be proud of [the black race] and would be as successful as all the other races.
Mr Melhado thanked Mr Garvey for his befitting address, while loud applause was given to Mr Garvey after which, the National Anthem brought the meeting to a close. ”
Old Harbour is my home town and I, my older siblings and my dad were educated at Ludford School. So I missed Garvey’s visit to Old Harbour by some 44 years. As I look back to try and picture this visit to the then small town of Old Harbour, I keep asking myself
- Why did Garvey visit Old Harbour?
- Did he take questions from the audience?
- Did Garvey discuss his successful period in the US and subsequent incarceration there?
- Did Garvey highlight his then current challenges and goals?
- Did Garvey’s message inspire those who were there?
- Did Garvey also canvas support for his own People Political Party (Jamaica’s first political party which was created in September 1929)?
- Is there anyone who attended Garvey’s visit still alive?[Still working on this point]
By 1940 Garvey had passed away in London. Despite Garvey’s ascendency in Jamaica to National Hero status since the 1960’s, one wonders whether his message would have been accepted in today’s challenging Jamaican society.
Ludford School has been known as Old Harbour Primary since the 1950s and has had a rich history of teachers and students pass through its institution. The school has moved to new premises since the current century. During periods of the 1950s/60s, the principal -when my elder siblings attended – was one Donald Nation, grandfather of writer Malcolm Gladwell, of “The Tipping Point” fame.