Norman Washington Manley (1893-1969)

Yesterday, July 4, 2010, marked the birth of Norman Washington Manley (July 4, 1893–September 2, 1969), national hero of Jamaica and the island’s chief minister from 1959 to 1962. A Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Manley became one of Jamaica’s leading lawyers in the 1920s.

Manley identified himself with the cause of the workers at the time of the labor troubles of 1938 and donated time and advocacy to the cause. In September 1938, Manley founded the People’s National Party (PNP) and was elected its president annually until his retirement (in 1969). With his cousin, Alexander Bustamante, Manley was an advocate of universal suffrage, which was granted in Jamaica in 1944.

Manley was a strong advocate of the Federation of the West Indies, established in 1958. When Alexander Bustamante declared that the Jamaican Labor Party would take Jamaica out of the Federation, Manley, renowned for his integrity and commitment to democracy, called a referendum to let the people decide. The vote was against Jamaica’s continued membership of the Federation and Manley, after arranging Jamaica’s orderly withdrawal from the union, set up a joint committee to decide on a constitution for separate independence for Jamaica. He himself chaired the committee with great distinction and then led the team that negotiated Jamaica’s independence from Britain.

His son, Michael Norman Manley, a democratic socialist, was Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 to 1980 and 1989 to 1992.

For full biography, see http://www.jis.gov.jm/special_sections/Heroes/Heroes.htm#Norman

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