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People of Jamaica

Jamaica > People of Jamaica

People of Jamaica

Mixed marriages created today's unique racially mixed Jamaican people and are the basis of Jamaica s national motto, "Out of Many, One People." Ambition and opportunities sent many abroad. A Jamaican workforce helped to build the Panama Canal. Others grew cane in Cuba and mahogany in Belize while some enterprising migrants started communities in the United States, Great Britain and elsewhere.

Jamaicans continue to prosper and to give the world men and women of distinction: American civil rights activist Marcus Garvey, legendary entertainer Harry Belafonte, basketball player Patrick Ewing, baseball player Charles (Chili) Davis, the fastest man in the world and Olympic medalist Usain Bolt, reggae superstar Bob Marley, middleweight boxing champion Michael McCallum (Hall of Fame inductee), heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis, and Scripps Howard spelling bee champion Jodi Ann Maxwell, among others.

In the 1930s, politics in Jamaica was born. Two very dissimilar men, Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante (who, in a uniquely Jamaican coincidence, happened to be cousins), founded the two major political parties, the Peoples National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party, respectively. On August 6,1962, at a midnight ceremony witnessed by Britain's Princess Margaret and U.S. Vice President Lyndon Johnson, the British Union Jack was lowered; the new black, gold and green Jamaican flag was raised; and Jamaica became an independent nation. For 30 years, the island's rich bauxite (alumina) deposits were the bedrock of the economy, supplying nearly two thirds of the U.S. requirement for aluminum in the 1970s. Today, tourism is the economy's cornerstone.

 
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