Today is National Heroes Day in Jamaica, a public holiday celebrated on the 3rd Monday of October, commemorating those who fought for freedom against the tyranny of slavery, those who fought for Universal Adult Sufferage and the birth of independent Jamaica. As far as I can tell there are no traditional ways to celebrate this occasion, although there seem to be isolated commemorative events going on in different places around the island. Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition released official statements in recognition of the day; their words speak to the importance of the heroes to Jamaican culture.

Paul Bogle (1822 – 24 October 1865) was a leader of the 1865 Morant Bay protesters, who marched for justice and fair treatment for all the people in Jamaica.

Sir William Alexander Clarke Bustamante (24 February 1884 – 6 August 1977) was a Jamaican politician and labour leader who became the first prime minister of Jamaica.

Marcus Garvey (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940) was a political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a proponent of the Pan-Africanism movement and who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.

George William Gordon (1820 – 23 October 1865) was a wealthy Jamaican businessman, magistrate and politician who came to be seen as a precursor of Jamaican nationalism.

Norman Manley (4 July 1893 – 2 September 1969), was an advocate of universal suffrage and was one of the founders of the People’s National Party, serving as the colony’s Chief Minister from 1955 to 1959, and as Premier from 1959 to 1962.

Nanny of the Maroons (c. 1686 – c. 1755), the only female Jamaican national hero, was a well-known leader of the Jamaican Maroon movement. She was born into the Asante people in what is today Ghana, and escaped from slavery after being transported to Jamaica.

Samuel Sharpe (1801 – 23 May 1832) was the slave leader behind the widespread Jamaican Baptist War slave rebellion of 1832 (the Christmas Rebellion).

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