Throughout 2016, the Jamaica Progressive League will host a Series of events, and participate in programs and activities to celebrate its 80th anniversary.
The Jamaica Progressive League was officially launched in New York City September 1, 1936. Given the outstanding contributions of the organization, it is befitting that this significant milestone is marked by a year- long celebration.
As a reminder, the purpose of the League was to ensure a better quality of life for Jamaicans at home and abroad. Jamaica however, first had to free itself from the stranglehold of Colonialism. It took years of collaborations and intense negotiations to bring this about, but the leadership of the League stood firm and eventually there was the breakthrough.
December 22, 1937 the Readers and Writers Club of Kingston Jamaica summoned Mr. Adolphe Roberts, president of the League to address them on the issue of self-government. The group was so impressed by the presentation that they asked their president, Mr. H. G. Delisser, editor of the Jamaica Daily Gleaner to speak on the issue, Mr. Delisser was totally opposed to the idea and stated that Jamaica would get self-government over his dead body, and resigned the following day. (It turned out that his words were prophetic).
Following this event, a chapter of the Jamaica Progressive League was quickly formed in Jamaica, with Mr. W.G. Mc. Farlane as secretary. The first order of business for this new group was to form a political party with the aim of Independence. September 18, 1938 the People’s National Party was subsequently launched. Norman Washington Manley, a strong advocate for change in the West Indies and strongly influenced by the League’s position on self- government and Independence, was appointed leader of the newly formed party. N.N. Nethersole was appointed deputy, and Vernon Arnett secretary. The first message delivered by Norman was on that his sentiments were with the League’s position on self- government and that it (self- government) should be the primary focus of the newly formed organization.
The League worked with the Jamaican Government and played a pivotal role in Jamaica not only achieving self-government, but gaining independence from Great Britain in 1962.
In the US, foremost on the League’s agenda, was advocacy on behalf of the new arrivals to the United States, particularly from the Caribbean and parts of Africa Up to the early 1960’s, there was an immigration stipulation that allowed only 100 persons annually from those areas to enter US (legally) Active lobbying by the League overturned this rule known as the National Origins Quota System. Apparently this was of marked significance, because President Lyndon B Johnson chose to sign the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 at the Statue of Liberty instead of at the White House. At this signing, President Johnson, recognizing the significant role of the JPL handed the pen that he used to sign the bill to Mrs. Beryl Henry President of the League.
80 years have gone by since the founding of this esteemed organization, and being concerned with its progress we have decided step up our effort of Nation Building. So in this our 80th year we have developed some strategies that will move us from ideas to action, and a renewal of our commitment of sensitizing the community at large to the expanding needs of our Nationals here and abroad.
Our success depends on the unity and participation of all, and we are inviting you to join us in this exciting venture.