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Arts & Culture

Jamaican Independence Turns 45

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And finally, the island nation of Jamaica marks an important milestone today. It's been 45 years since it's won its independence from the United Kingdom, and Jamaicans living around the world spent the weekend celebrating, wearing the national colors: green, black and gold.

For today's Heard on the Street segment, TELL ME MORE brings listeners sounds from the Jamaican independence party this weekend right here in Washington, D.C.

Ms. CAROL HALL(ph): My name is Carol Hall.

I'm now a naturalized American citizen, but I am, you know, Jamaica is the land of my birth. Well, we received independence from England on the 6th of August 1962, so this is our 45th celebration - independence celebration. Well, what it made to us, that we were responsible for our destiny as a people. We did receive political independence from England, but of course, the economic independence is something that has been our responsibility. We make an effort to, over this weekend, serve the traditional Jamaican food, the rice and peas, the curried goat, the jerk chicken, jerk pork. And we're just trying to get together and have a good time.

Mr. CHRIS MICHAEL(ph): Chris Michael, Kingston, Jamaica.

We're at - and it's an independence day, you know, it's - and now we own our own stuff and we're emancipating ourselves from, you know, other the country owning us. So, it means we're free. We wear the colors - our colors, you know, because we appreciate our colors and our country, so we just party.

Ms. BEVERLY THOMAS: I'm Beverly Thomas.

Independent means the life we live, our culture, and it promotes more of our culture. And we are so diverse, also, and it's just good to be a Jamaican.

Mr. WINSTON ROBINSON: Winston Robinson from Montego Bay, Jamaica.

It's a renewal of our faith, our culture, and that's exactly what it is. It's an opportunity for people to identify themselves as Jamaican and come together as a Jamaican community. And it's a way of bringing everybody together. That's why the mark of the country is out of many one people. That's exactly what it stands for.

Ms. CLAIRE ROBINSON: I'm Claire Robinson, regional sales manager for Air Jamaica for the mid-Atlantic region based in Silver Spring, Maryland.

What I hope is that we see Jamaica is more than a beach - we're a country. And what is great about Jamaica is the warmth of the Jamaican people.

Mr. CHARLES HAUSEN(ph): My name is Charles Hausen. I live in Maryland, originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica.

As Jamaicans, we always say, out of many, one people - and the word one people means everybody - race, nationality and everything. And as Jamaicans, we always like to have a good time. As we always say in Jamaica, no problem, man. And that's what we're having right here. Everything's irie and no problem, man.

Ms. CLAUDETTE WILLIAMS: Claudette Williams. I'm from Kingston, Jamaican, now I'm residing in Bloomfield, New Jersey. It's all about love, you know, and one people. Our culture is a blend of different cultures. One love.

(Soundbite of song, "One Love")

Unidentified Group: (Singing) One love. One heart. Let's join together and just feel all right.

MARTIN: Those were the voices and sounds from a Jamaican independence day celebration in Washington, D.C.

(Soundbite of song, "One Love")

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Let's join together and feel all right. Let's come together and feel all right.

Unidentified Man: (Singing) I said, let them all pass their dirty remarks…

Unidentified Group: (Singing) One love.

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.