Martin Luther King Jr said inspired by Jamaica

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

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OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Slain civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr got much of his inspiration for his books in the island of Jamaica. This, according to one of King's contemporaries, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who himself has long held the country in high esteem.

Young, who headlined a chorus of international celebrities, politicians and business leaders who lauded Jamaica's cultural identity and heritage at the 16th annual Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference which ended at Sandals Grande Riviera on Sunday.

He told the delegates that from 1961-1968, he and slain civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr would come to Jamaica "almost every January, where Dr King got inspiration to write his books".

It was here Young said, that Martin Luther King got his vision of what was possible and where he was able to devise ways to make it happen.

"There is just something about Jamaica that makes you want to come here, get refreshed and focus," he said, adding that after first visiting the country in 1959, he was so impressed that he looked up to "Jamaica as a vision of what America might become".

Other notables who sang Jamaica's praises included publisher of Carib News in New York and organiser of the conference, Karl Rodney and former Essence magazine editor-in-chief Susan Taylor.

"Everyone who attended is just in love with Jamaica and Sandals. Jamaica is irresistible," said Rodney.

Listing some of the areas in which Jamaica has had international success, including sports, entertainment and the culinary arts, the publisher pointed out that "a lot of people are looking to Jamaica for leadership within the Caribbean and African American communities".

For Taylor's part, she invoked the spirit of national heroine Nanny of the Maroons and national hero Marcus Garvey, whose birthplace she visited during her stay.

She told delegates: "we are the generation that is reaping the benefits of what our ancestors strove for ... people like Nanny and Marcus Garvey."

Kudos for the Jamaican people, its tourism, sports, food and culture also came from author Terry McMillan, the Young and the Restless soap star Victoria Rowell.

Among the celebrated personalities who attended the four-day event were former Jamaica Prime Minister, PJ Patterson; owner of the Sandals chain of hotels, Gordon "Butch" Stewart; former New York City Mayor David Dinkins; senior VP of Macy's, Ed Goldberg; multi-millionaire developer, Michael Roberts; member of Barack Obama's advisory council, John Hope Bryan; and a host of US senators and councilmen.

The conference aims to bring together businesses, communities, and leaders at all levels interested in understanding the economic opportunities in the emerging markets of the Caribbean and Latin America and to leverage them against those in the US.


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