Jamaican Ephraim Martin, a Midwestern resident is celebrating double victory from a 33-15 decision voted by Chicago city council members who green-lit his Black Heroes Matter campaign to rename the prestigious Lake Shore Drive in tribute to Haitian, trailblazer Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable.
“Thanks to the people of Chicago and the donors … it’s unbelievable…what a victory!” he exclaimed after getting the majority vote.
The activist, immigrant seemed elated that only a year after the start of his mission and with strong resistance from power brokers the longest named street in America is set to become a signpost honoring a Caribbean national, pioneer, businessman and most notably a Black man.
After 240 years, the name change now dedicates a 17-mile stretch from the north side of the river to the south side of the expressway.
It took vigorous pleas to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city council to bring the motion for a vote.
News reports described past and te previous meetings to be “raucous.”
Despite the differences of opinions, last Friday the BHM proposal triumphed.
Motivated by last year’s advocacy of a Black Lives Matter Movement following the murder of George Floyd, Martin extended his reggae-filled days to include chairing a coalition of like-minded citizens who believe Black Heroes Matter.
Together, they marched, hosted virtual sessions, lobbied with politicians to wage a media campaign focusing on informing residents about the history of their city.
To the surprise of many, DuSable, an immigrant, Black man was revealed to be the true founding father.
Throughout his campaign, Martin blamed systemic racism as the cause of omitting DuSable’s contribution to establishing Chicago as a city.
As for Martin, he is founder of IRAWMA (International Reggae and World Music Awards), an alternative reward presentation gala, ceremony to the Grammy Awards.
Established one year after the 1981 death of reggae legend Bob Marley, the honors have annually expanded from solely acknowledging the Jamaica-birthed music form to add ignored genres and categories.
In addition, Marin is revered for honoring local achievers by establishing a Chicago Music Awards and the July 4 weekend Festival of Life.
ZIGGY CAPPED HONORARY DOCTORATE AT MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE
Two thousand 662 students were honored during a virtual graduation ceremony which combined joint 2020 and 2021 classes from Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College but only one already owns eight Grammy Awards and a slew of other music awards — David “Ziggy” Marley.
The international star and revered heir of a legacy shaped by parents — Bob and Rita Marley two globally recognized talents — Ziggy was conferred Doctor of Fine Arts.
The honorary degree, lauded during a virtual ceremony hailed his 40 years of honing a career as producer, Emmy winner, author and musician. He was also recognized for his advocacy against social injustice, humanitarian and philanthropic contributions.
The reggae benefactor is founder of URGE (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment) a non-profit organization whose mission encompasses construction of schools, operating health clinics, providing camp experiences and aiding with back-to-school needs.
In addition to providing aid to needy students on his birth-island of Jamaica, his charitable philanthropy also benefits a diverse group of underprivileged youths in California via HOLA (Heart of Los Angeles.)
No stranger to receiving honor, Ziggy recently received the Black Press of America’s Global Icon Award.
Patricia Ramsey, the first female president in 50 years since City University of New York established the institution conferred the honor saying: “In recognition of your inspired dedication and commitment to the service of human needs…I hereby award the honorary doctorate of Fine Arts…with all the rights, privileges and honors appertaining there to.”
He gave “Big Ups” to fellow graduates of Medgar Evers College and in a speech admonished graduates to live up to the expectations of the CUNY institution.
The eldest son of two iconic figures spoke at length about Evers who the institution is named for. He talked about the Civil Rights proponent and how his mission to securing voting rights for his people distinguished him worthy of a university named in his honor despite the fact he was assassinated in the south by less honorable individuals.
Ziggy also spoke glowingly about Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr., Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela and his father all of whom he said found freedom along the way to pursuing their goals.
“You are humanity’s hope…this is the moment…none but ourselves can free our minds…we need you…”
To punctuate his optimistic message, the musician played the guitar and sang “Redemption Song” one of his father’s most motivating message compositions.
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds…”
To cap his acceptance speech of being awarded an honorary doctorate degree, his wife Orly appeared in his midst to secure the traditional, black, gown and straighten the hat he wore as a worthy achiever.
Catch You On The Inside!