Rastarfari's 50th Coral Gardens 'Black Friday' Commemoration - University Of The West Indies Looks Back

Coral Gardens Incident - 1963 (Jahblemmuzik.com photo)

Coral Gardens Incident - 1963 (Jahblemmuzik.com photo)

Coral Gardens Incident - 1963 (Jahblemmuzik.com photo)

University Of West_Indies West Jamaica Campus

...courtesy of Nicole Plummer, Lecturer in History, University of the West Indies, Mona (WJC).

In keeping with its focus on exploration, learning and open discussion on topical and timely issues, the University of the West Indies, Mona, Western Jamaica Campus (UWI-WJC) on April 11, 2013 presented 'Exploring The Coral Gardens Incident: Fifty Years Forward'.

The purpose of this event was to spread awareness and knowledge of the events in Coral Gardens, St. James, Jamaica, fifty (50) years ago, and to foster dialogue on the subject.

The event opened with lively and entertaining performances by the Rasta Village Drummers, dub poet Ras Takura and singer Martin X.

Students of the Western Campus were not to be outdone, a dance routine was ably accomplished by the UWI-WJC Dance Society followed by a creative and entertaining skit.

After greetings by Dr. Luz Longsworth, director of the UWI-WJC, and Ras Ika Tafari of the Rastafari Coral Gardens Committee (RCGC) as well as an introduction to the documentary by Ms. Nicole Plummer, lecturer at UWI-WJC, the documentary, 'Bad Friday' by professors Deborah Thomas, John L. JUackson and Junior Wedderburn was presented to the audience of students, staff and member of the public.

Testimonies of the Coral Gardens 'Incident' were offered by Elders Bongo Brisset and Bong Isaac, who were beaten and arrested and Mr. Mark Campbell, brother of Errol Campbell, a police officer who was critically injured during the incident.

An informal discussion featuring panelists Maurice McCurdy of National Reparations Commissions and Ras Iyah-V of RCGC followed.

Both panelists ably answered the questions put the them by the audience.

The event lived up to its aim: to spread awareness and stimulate discussions as audience members were thoroughly engaged in such.


The Coral Gardens massacre, called 'Bad Friday', began on Good Friday 1963 when Rudolph Franklyn and a gang of Rastas armed themselves to exact vengeance for a constitutional violation against the leader of the pact in Coral Gardens.

As the story goes, a few misguided ones burnt down a gas station and killed a policeman in Coral Gardens, and that was when all hell broke loose against Rastas everywhere in Jamaica.

Then Prime Minister of Jamaica, Alexander Bustamante, is alleged to have ordered that all rastas be shot on sight.

The good had to suffer for the bad, as Rastas were hunted like wild animals in every crevice and corner of Jamaica, even in the most remote and desolate places.

To survive, rastas and even non-rastas with beards and long hair had to get rid of them.

A large majority of them however remained faithful to their God, Haile Selassie-I and never bowed, even unto death.

It was this prolonged tribulation that forced then Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I to make the unforgettable state visit Jamaica on April 21. 1966.

Source: Western Mirror

Editor's Note
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary, several events were held in Jamaica.

See Also:
Rasta Settlements In Jamaica

Related: Jamaica Religions

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