About Us


BACKGROUND TO THE RECONSTRUCTION OF LIBERTY HALL

 “We meet in Liberty Hall, not as cringing sycophants, but as men and women standing erect and demanding our rights from all quarters…”

 -Marcus Garvey New York, 1920

 “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.”

 -Marcus Garvey, Nova Scotia, Canada October, 1937

Kingston, Jamaica is the birthplace of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) which was founded in 1914. The UNIA existed in several countries and its divisions were required to have Liberty Halls.  Liberty Hall, at 76 King Street, was bought by the Kingston Division of the UNIA and opened in 1923. It was Garvey’s headquarters for a short while, following his deportation to Jamaica from the United States in 1927. By 1929 Garvey acquired much larger premises named EdelweissPark at 67 Slipe Road. This became the international headquarters of the UNIA until Garvey migrated to England. Edelweiss Park was the venue of the UNIA’s large international conventions in 1929 and 1934.

The Kingston UNIA was one of several divisions in Jamaica. Some of the others were at Bog Walk, MorantBay and Golden Grove in St. Thomas, Montego Bay in St. James, SpanishTown in St. Catherine, SwiftRiver and Port Antonio in Portland, Resource in Manchester, and Crossroads St. Andrew.

In Garvey’s time Liberty Hall, Kingston was the venue for UNIA general meetings, as well as meetings of the Black Cross Nurses, the African Legion and the Juveniles. It had its own bands, choirs and drama groups, and hosted spectacular cultural and intellectual programmes. Several small businesses, such as an employment agency, laundromat and cooperative bank also operated there.  For decades Liberty Hall was a major entertainment centre even after it passed out of the UNIA’s hands. In the 1970s it was the venue of a popular boxing gym, which hosted numerous Caribbean professional boxers such as Jamaica’s Bunny Grant.

Liberty Hall, Kingston, c. 1930 Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers Project, UCLA.

Liberty Hall, Kingston, c.  1930

Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers Project, UCLA.

 

Over the years the use of the property changed with its owners. By the early 1980s it was the site of a garage operated by its then owner, James Porteous and his family.

 Liberty Hall, Kingston, 1987 ©The Gleaner Company Ltd.

Liberty Hall, Kingston, 1987

©The Gleaner Company Ltd.

In 1987, the Government of Jamaica led by the Hon. Edward Seaga, in celebration of Garvey’s centenary, purchased the building and through the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) declared it a national monument.  A group of committed and influential persons– principally, Ms. Elaine Melbourne, Prof. Rupert Lewis, Mr. Frank Gordon, the late Deacon Wolde Madhin,  Ms. Donna Scott-Motley, Mr. Herbert Repole, Mrs. Marjorie Scott-Anderson, Mr. Tony Laing, Ms. Beverly Hamilton, and Prof. Robert Hill formed The Friends of Liberty Hall in the 1990s. The Friends collaborated with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust and the Institute of Jamaica to actualise the restoration.  The Government committed J$15 million and the rebuilding began under the leadership of Mr. Everest Harding, Assets Manager of the IOJ.

Liberty Hall was re-opened on October 20, 2003, Jamaica’s National Heroes Day in a grand ceremony on King Street. The ribbon was cut jointly by the then Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson and then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Edward Seaga.  Marcus Garvey’s son Julius Garvey represented his family, and Garvey scholars Tony Martin, Rupert Lewis and Beverly Hamilton were in attendance, along with scores of dignitaries, Rastafarians, and Jamaicans from all walks of life.

Liberty Hall is a living monument to Marcus Garvey. Once again it provides facilities for education, entertainment and enrichment of spirit for people in Jamaica and visitors from abroad. Its restoration serves to remind us of Garvey’s work and encourages us to use his philosophy to develop ourselves and our community.

The management of Liberty Hall has established:

  • The MarcusMosiahGarveyMultimediaMuseum (MMGMM)
  • The Garvey Research/Reference Library
  • The Garvey Multimedia Computer Centre
  • Educational Outreach Programmes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Friends of Liberty Hall Who Worked Towards the Restoration:

  • Prof. Rupert Lewis (Chairman)
  • Ms. Elaine Melbourne (Co-ordinator)
  • Mr. Vivian Crawford
  • Mr. Tony Laing
  • Mr. Ken Jones
  • Ms. Donna Scott-Mottley
  • Father Wolde Madhin
  • Ms. Marjorie Scott Anderson
  • Mr. Findlay Clarke
  • Mr. Frank Gordon
  • Mr. Herbert (Denny) Repole
  • Ms. Sheena Johnson
  • Mr. Michael Bennett
  • Ms. Beverly Hamilton
  • Ms. Nicole Patrick

 

The Friends of Liberty Hall (Marcus Garvey) Foundation , est. 2003

  • Prof. Rupert Lewis (Chairman)
  • Ms. Elaine Melbourne
  • Prof. Robert Hill
  • Mr. Tony Laing
  • Ms. Nicole Patrick
  • Mr. Herbert Repole
  • Ms. Marjorie Scott-Anderson
  • Ms. Donna Scott-Motley