Jamaica’s trailblazing organization seeks a hopeful village

Dorette, Cassandra, Allman, Sadie Aarons-Campbell and longtime JPL member.
Dorette, Cassandra, Allman, Sadie Aarons-Campbell and longtime JPL member.
Photo by Vinette K. Pryce

On the 87th anniversary of the establishment of the Jamaica Progressive League, Sadie Aarons-Campbell, its current president plan to restate her unflinching confidence in securing a Hopeful Village nationals from her Caribbean island will positively relate by reaffirming tenets prescribed by its founding members.

Conceptualized from childhood memories of a radio broadcast about a fictionalized community, which featured folk comedians Louise Bennett and Ranny Williams in a quiet location which housed neighborly individuals, there in Hopeful Village, optimism and peaceful co-existence were only interrupted by banter and harmless chicanery.

Although the president has never admitted the genesis of her dream hamlet, many Jamaicans will recall the series which rated highly as a lifestyle to emulate.

To that end, beginning at noon on Sept.2, the JPL membership will host a Founders Day celebration at the Bronx headquartered 2230 Light St. location where leaders will purposely interface with the community to propose strategies for sustainable development while simultaneously enjoy a family fun day.

In fact, four years ago, the gathering spot at Dyre Ave. and Light St. was designated Jamaica Progressive League Way.

Forging forward to achieve a community-based outlet where concerns of health, education, mental well-being, immigration, communications and other issues will be addressed, the trailblazing Caribbean group are making progress in achieving goals that exemplify their identity.

They have already accomplished liaisons enabling weekly pantry service to Bronx residents by distributing fruits and vegetables and other food items every Saturday.

“My daughter Cassandra is the organizer of that operation,” Aarons-Campbell explained., “she and a team of helpers begin handing out bags of supplies at 9 o’clock sharp and there is always a line waiting.”

Whatever surplus remains, there are outdoor shelves, a refrigerator and groceries to supplement the needs of a hopeful village.

On a recent weekend, her brother Alman and sister Dorette engaged family endorsement of the project.

Alman who is visiting from England pitched in support by shredding boxes for disposal. The politically savvy sister readily engaged valuable assistance and a wealth of constructive guidance.

Much attribution was lavished on Jose Richards, a deputy and founder of Sons & Daughters of Jamaica who is reputed to help clear away evergreens which eats at the building as they make their way to find chlorophyll; speaks on behalf of the JPL at social events and readily provides accompaniment to Greenhaven Correctional facility where detained Caribbean inmates are incarcerated.

“We do believe that the contributions of the Jamaica Progressive League towards the process (of self-governance) was a true blue print that at this time should be reviewed and resurrected,” a statement read. “We are therefore hopeful that as we celebrate the significant milestone of 61 years the powers that be will consider a redirection strategy that is more inclusive of Jamaica as a whole and not only areas frequented by tourists such as Kingston and Montego Bay.”

Adding to realization of a hoped-for locale in the Bronx, a library overloaded by proclamations, citations and declarations contains images of Sir Clifford Campbell, the island’s first governor general, Florizel Glaspole, a successor, photos of Norman Washington Manley, the island’s only Premier leader, Prime Ministers Michael Manley, Edward Seaga, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Percival J.Patterson, and Portia Simpson-Miller, the first and only female leader. Along with other significant dignitaries there is also a framed portrait of Barack Obama, America’s only Black President.

A modest collection of books donated mostly by newspaper publishers Karl and Faye Rodney fills the allocated space.

It probably is the contention of JPL members that not only Manhattan should have an area named for Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jamaica’s first national hero. But given his impact that extended beyond the Village of Harlem, every borough of New York City should either designate a museum, statue or any permanent structure in memory of the global mobilizer.

In 1987, Mayor Ed Koch signed into law a designation by the city council to name a Harlem thoroughfare — Marcus Garvey Blvd.

The Bronx followed naming the intersections of Gun Hill and White Plains Road in honor of the Jamaican hero.

The JPL relentlessly pursued expansion for the four corners to be renamed Marcus Garvey Square.

Since then the JPL has proposed legislation to claim a nearby park.

“We are relying on our representative, who we know will accommodate this landmark before the end of the year.”

Documenter Roy T. Anderson concurs with the notion of paying tribute to the martyr.

Last year on the 135th anniversary of the Aug. 17 birth of the Pan-African immigrant, Anderson premiered “African Redemption; The Life and Legacy of Marcus Garvey” at a park named in his honor in Harlem.

This year on that date, there were screenings of the film on two continents in Spain and Ghana.

Although aspirations of an envied community dominate the sensibility of the president of the JPL she is cognizant of the need for young recruits.

“We want to establish a miracle project to reseed, speak forcefully and retrofit in order to resurrect.”

“I’m not as young as I used to be, we have to find a way to tell our story so that other people will not tell it in a distorted fashion with their mega bull-horns.”

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