Jamaica’s Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, proclaimed October 11 as Paul Bogle Day to honor the National Hero who famously led a protest against the colonial government on October 11, 1865.
Per Jamaica Observer, Paul Bogle Day will be commemorated annually. This year’s observation took place at the iconic church deacon and activist’s birthplace of Stony Gut. The Caribbean nation’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport, Olivia Grange, on Tuesday said in a statement to parliament that the proclamation of the day was made possible through her request.
“I am pleased to be able to proclaim Paul Bogle Day, even as some of the dreams of Paul Bogle for better working and liveable conditions of the people of St Thomas are coming to pass. The story is told that the Jamaica House of Assembly passed a resolution in 1865 to punish the people of St Thomas for their action, determined that the parish would see very little development,” Grange said.
“Very soon, the people of St Thomas will have greater access to the commercial centre by way of a new highway. Further, also the development of the Morant Bay Court House into a modern museum will no doubt enhance the quality of life for the people of St Thomas going forward,” she added.
Opposition Leader Mark Golding also welcomed the proclamation of the day. “I had actually moved a motion in this House on the 26th of July 2022 calling for that very thing… summarising the tremendous courage and leadership that Paul Bogle showed in St Thomas and the ultimate sacrifice that he paid with his life,” he said, adding that he initially wanted the day to fall on the date Bogle was hanged, which is October 24, 1865.
“[The year] 1865 was a turning point, when the landless and oppressed people of St Thomas stood up, and the system of oppression — which gave rise to their determination to fight for their rights in that way — suffered a sort of cataclysmic rejection. Although hundreds of people died in it, it did lead to changes with helped Jamaica to the point where we are today.”
Bogle on October 11, 1865, led a protest that saw locals march to the Morant Bay courthouse from the village of Stony Gut. The march was to protest against the poor living conditions and injustices locals in St. Thomas as well as Jamaica were experiencing, Jamaica Observer reported.
The protest ultimately escalated into what is known as the Morant Bay Rebellion where almost 500 people were killed. In the aftermath of the protest and rebellion, Bogle was arrested, tried, and hanged by the colonial government.
The dispute, however, caused authorities to implement changes targeted at the living conditions of the peasants in Jamaica. It also brought about a constitutional change as the Crown Colony Government replaced the representative system.