In the month of January, Liberty Hall (LH) remembers two very notable persons: Dr. Donna McFarlane and Prof. Tony Martin.
Dr. McFarlane was LH’s beloved Director/Curator for over 14 years who went to join her ancestors on January 25, 2018. She was a formidable Pan-Africanist who challenged the racial status quo that existed not only in Jamaica, but also worldwide. She was unrelenting in steering LH on a course that positioned it as one of the foremost educational institutions in the world, focused on Garvey. She achieved this by conceptualizing a community-based space that catered to the practical and educational needs of the persons in the surrounding communities.
Dr. McFarlane always championed “blackness” and often challenged how “blackness” was represented in museums. Consequently, she curated the Marcus Garvey: The Movement and Philosophy exhibition, the permanent exhibition of the Marcus Mosiah Garvey Multimedia Museum. For her, the Museum was a Black space that helped to provide a transformative narrative for members of the Pan-African community and post-colonial societies. She was also very passionate in her advocacy for equality for Blacks and an appreciation of African involvement in the world’s development.
Prof. Tony Martin was a scholar on Garvey, African History and Caribbean History who died on January 17, 2013. A Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, Prof. Martin was also a prolific author. He authored, compiled or edited fourteen books including Literary Garveyism: Garvey, Black Arts and the Harlem Renaissance (1983), The Pan-African Connection: From Slavery to Garvey and Beyond (1983); The Progress of the African Race Since Emancipation and Prospects for the Future (1998) and the classic study of the Garvey Movement, Race First: the Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (1976). He also published Amy Ashwood Garvey, PanAfricanist, Feminist and Mrs. Marcus Garvey no. 1 or, A Tale of Two Amies.
Professor Martin was a continuous supporter of the growth and expansion of Liberty Hall and had donated copies of his publications to the Garvey Research/Reference Library at Liberty Hall. In August 2012, Professor Martin delivered the 3rd Annual Marcus Mosiah Garvey Lecture on the 125th anniversary of the birth of Marcus Garvey. The presentation was entitled, “If Garvey Dies, Garvey Lives”. He also used the occasion to launch his latest work, Caribbean History: From Pre-Colonial Origins to the Present (2012).
The loss of these two Black activists has had a major impact on LH and the wider community. In addition, the cause to advance Black people and propagate accurate Black and Caribbean History has lost two large voices. However, their work and legacies remain as motivation to those left behind.