The month of March is celebrated as Women’s History Month. The month is dedicated to reflecting on the often-overlooked contributions of women to history. Consequently, we at Liberty Hall: The Legacy of Marcus Garvey would like to feature a stalwart who dedicated her life to researching Garvey and his works; Miss Beverly Hamilton.
Beverly Hamilton (1944 – 2013) was a Garvey Scholar and Journalist. Born on November 14, 1944 in Jamaica, Miss Hamilton specialized in investigating the cultural initiatives of the Garvey Movement in Jamaica in the 1930s, and its impact on the island’s cultural development. She wrote several articles highlighting Garvey’s productions including his plays. She also looked at the mass choirs, the sporting programmes at Edelweiss Park and the role of his Jamaican newspapers, the Blackman (1929-1931) and the New Jamaican (1932-1933). She did extensive research on the artistic work of various personalities in the Movement including Ranny Williams (Maas Ran), Ernest Cupidon, Daisy Greenidge and Iris Lucille Patterson.
In the 1960s, Beverly Hamilton made it her duty to seek out and interview many elderly Garveyites who constituted the foot soldiers of the movement; this included St. William Grant. This aided her in building a valuable collection of memoirs which she used as reference for publications and presentations. She often made presentations to schools and communities on Africa and Jamaica’s cultural heritage.
Miss Hamilton was a member of the African Studies Association of the West Indies at UWI in the 1960s and 1970s and she participated in the conference marking the centenary of Garvey’s birth where she presented a paper entitled, Garvey and Cultural Development in Jamaica. She later founded the African Liberation Day Committee (ALDC) which organized an annual public activity on May 25, African Liberation Day, also called Africa Day.
Miss Hamilton was also an advocate for the teaching of Garvey in schools and was a founding member of the Friends of Liberty Hall. She worked to make Liberty Hall, 76 King Street, a fitting tribute to the legacy of the Garvey movement.
Miss Hamilton did extensive research over the years, however, she lost her research documents when her house was ravaged by fire in December 2011. Miss Hamilton never fully recovered from that devastation as a lot of what she lost was irreplaceable. She died on July 17, 2013.Though a vast amount of information was eventually lost, she still managed to disseminate vital information, over the years, to the Jamaican people, through various efforts.
Beverly Hamilton has made a significant contribution to Jamaica’s history, particularly the history of the Garvey Movement; and for this we are extremely grateful.