by Howard Campbell
[MIAMI] – In an era that produced numerous black heroes, Marcus Garvey’s uncompromising message of empowerment is timeless. It has inspired politicians and pop artists like reggae legend Bob Marley, whose Redemption Song contains one of Garvey’s best-known quotes.
That saying, ‘Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery’, will be placed on a tree marker to be unveiled in a ceremony on August 17 at The Underline Brickell Backyard Sound Stage Plaza. The sound stage is sponsored by Florida Power & Light. The event is sponsored by Friends of The Underline donor Mark Hobson.
A free live concert, featuring ska legend Eric “Monty” Morris and keyboardist Pablove Black, will follow the dedication. The occasion also celebrates Jamaica’s 60th anniversary as an independent nation.
Garvey and Marley were born in St. Ann parish, located on Jamaica’s scenic north coast. Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914 and became a forerunner of the Harlem Renaissance in New York, that flourished during the 1920s.
The idea to have one of Garvey’s most famous quotes on the tree marker came from Gladstone Gilbert, who was Marley’s traveling chef for several years until his death at age 36 in May, 1981.
Interestingly Gilbert, a longtime South Florida resident, was part of the procession for Garvey’s re-burial in Kingston, Jamaica in November, 1964. He died in London in June, 1940 at age 52; his body was exhumed and returned to his homeland 24 years later.
Garvey was named Jamaica’s first National Hero in 1969.
The tree marker is located at a linear park below Miami’s Metrorail, proposed by Friends of The Underline, a 23-member organization founded in 2014. It is the initial phase of a projected 120-acre space spanning 10 miles that, once completed, “will transform regional mobility and celebrate diversity, culture and lifelong learning.”
“We are honored that the Jamaican community has selected us as the venue for the 60th independence celebration. We love the opportunity to celebrate Miami’s diversity through cultural programming. Programs like these connect our community,” said Maggie Duarte, marketing coordinator for Friends of The Underline.
The Underline’s southern section is represented by Danielle Cohen-Higgins, District 8 Commissioner for Miami-Dade County, whose parents are Jamaican. Christina Brown, coordinator of the ceremony, is Jamaican.