Last year, the Jamaica Observer published an article on the anniversary of Dr. King’s 1965 speech at the National Stadium. I came across the article today as I was scrolling social media and I cannot get past the statement:
“In Jamaica, I feel like a human being.”
I literally stopped in my scroll. As much as I’ve studied Dr. King and his teachings, today was the first time I’ve seen this quote. It beautifully describes how I feel when I’m home. Like I’m somebody. Like my life matters. Like a human being.
The article goes on to highlight a later speech that Dr. King made regarding his experience in Jamaica:
“The other day Mrs. King and I spent about ten days down in Jamaica. I'd gone down to deliver the commencement address at the University of the West Indies. I always love to go to that great island which I consider the most beautiful island in all the world. The Government prevailed upon us to be their guests and spend some time and try to get a little rest while there on the speaking tour.
“And so, for those days we travelled all over Jamaica. And over and over again I was impressed by one thing. Here you have people from many national backgrounds: Chinese, Indians, so-called Negroes, and you can just go down the line, Europeans, European and people from many, many nations. Do you know they all live there and they have a motto in Jamaica, 'Out of many people, one people.' And they say, 'Here in Jamaica we are not Chinese, we are not Japanese, we are not Indians, we are not Negroes, we are not Englishmen, we are not Canadians. But we are all one big family of Jamaicans.’
Dr. King continues, “One day, here in America, I hope that we will see this and we will become one big family of Americans. Not white Americans, not black Americans, not Jewish or Gentile Americans, not Irish or Italian Americans, not Mexican Americans, not Puerto Rican Americans, but just Americans. One big family of Americans.”
I fully acknowledge that Jamaica and the Caribbean (and the rest of the world for that matter) is not without its problems. Racism, colorism, classism and economic disparities ravage communities globally, but Dr. King’s statement and reflection on his experience in Jamaica speak volumes. It’s why I am proud to be of Caribbean heritage and now a Jamaican citizen. In addition to the beaches and rum, I think it’s why millions of us flock to the Caribbean each year. It’s why we launched I Love Being Caribbean and believe so firmly in our vision and purpose. We’re just one big family of human beings.
We love the vibes, our loveably resilient people and the never-ending contributions that our culture and community bring to the world.
If you Love Being Caribbean and vibe with the movement we've created, we want to invite you to join us. We are a community of people committed to the I Love Being Caribbean movement because we love connecting people with the culture through positive messages, experiences and vibes. You don't have to be Caribbean to Love Being Caribbean!