Jamaica’s Opposition leader meets the Jamaican Diaspora

Mark Golding, leader of the opposition in Jamaica
Mark Golding, leader of the opposition in Jamaica addressing a crowd of supporters and friends in Long Island.
Photo by Dawn Plummer

After a whirlwind tour with a delegation of senior leaders from the Peoples National Party (PNP), the Opposition Leader of Jamaica, Mark J. Golding, ended a nine-day visit to the United States. The tour which started in Florida and climaxed in New York City at Medgar Evers College on Thursday night July 21, 2022, after experiencing an eventful sold-out event the previous day, July 20, in Long Island, New York where a crowd of strong and resolute PNP supporters showed up to meet and hear from their leader.

The evening’s event at Medgar Evers College took the form of a lecture presented by Golding. The Opposition Leader spoke on the “Caribbean Diaspora Influence on the United States” this took place in the Edison O. Jackson auditorium. This event too, had supporters and friends engaging themselves in the well-received presentation from the Opposition Leader. During his almost 40-minute presentation to the overly excited group, he spoke to the audience about their significance in the Diaspora.

Member of Parliament (MP), Golding referred to the first voyage of Caribbean slaves, which landed on the coastal areas in South Carolina coming from the island of Barbados in the 18th century, to a present-day world of Caribbean immigrants who have made significant strides in all strata of the American society. MP Golding named all great Jamaicans and other Caribbean people who have help pivoted creativity and stewardship to contribute to the modern-day era of the United States.

Opposition Leader Golding expressed his opinion on the powerful vibes of the Caribbean people that he has witnessed as he travelled across the US. During the last few days, “the impact of the Caribbean is not limited to food and culture,” he added, highlighting once again the voyage to the US for Caribbean people since the 17th century. He then added his points on the role Caribbean immigrants played in critical moments during the early 19th century into the early 20th century. Golding talked about the “Red Summer of 1919” as a critical period and the relentless work of the Caribbean people during such a trivial period, not neglecting the great and widespread work that was done by the Hon. Marcus Garvey in the United States which started in 1916.

Golding talked about the tightening of the immigration laws by the US and how that has invigorated and strengthened strong values and self-preservation for Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals. He commented on the people who have come to the Diaspora before and how others that followed them have preserved and maintained the folklore of the Jamaican culture. He asked that the younger generations of Caribbean people expose themselves to this culture so that the tradition continues. He stated that Jamaica needs to foster itself into the new era. “We cannot treat business as usual” he added. He explained that the impact has far outreach “festival and food,” adding to that comment, the Party Leader said, “social transformation is what the Peoples’ National Party must be about.”

The Opposition Leader then went further into the lecture talking about the 60th year of Jamaica as an independent nation. Mr. Golding said that Jamaica needs to position itself into the new era. He said that Jamaica’s struggles with infrastructure and climate change need to be addressed. Golding noted that the culture is vibrant, and the 60th anniversary is a milestone that is undeniably good, “but we continue to hope for a bigger and better Jamaica,” he added. “We cannot treat business as usual… it is 60 years of riding the storm.” The member of parliament then noted that in 2021 over 3.3 billion dollars in remittance came into Jamaica. For this he thanked the Jamaican Diaspora and stated that despite the challenges the diaspora continues to show dedicated support for their country.

Golding began this US tour on July 13, where he stopped in South Florida and held meetings with the Jamaican Diaspora communities and attended cultural events in the City of Miramar, in South Florida. During the stop also, the delegation observed performances during a traditional Jamaican festival celebration in the city of Miramar.

The group of eight officials spent another two days, in the state of Georgia from July 16 to 17. While in Georgia, they attended a worship service with the Jamaican community at the St. Michael’s and All Angels Episcopal Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia. On July 17, the delegation attended a town hall meeting at the church hall to participate in a community meeting with the Jamaicans Diaspora there.

Their next step on the journey was in the Washington DC/Maryland area. This took place on July 18 and 19. While there, Golding and the other members were guests at a Caribbean Forum in Silver Springs, Maryland. At the forum, Golding addressed the audience on “The Future of the Caribbean Regional Integration.” He asked that the Caribbean Community participate as one. During this stop, members of the Caribbean community gathered also to mark the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence. The Opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Lisa Hanna, MP spoke on the position of the opposition on the matter of Diaspora Policy. MP Hanna engaged the group by asking for their continued support to the Opposition Party, the PNP.

The goal of the tour was to confirm the importance of Jamaicans in the Diaspora towards the building of Jamaica’s future. The delegation thanked Jamaicans abroad for their resolute support of their homeland and said they remain mindful of the significant contributions Jamaicans have made to their adopted home.

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