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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Jamaican independence celebrated in Plainfield this weekend

The lush island nation of Jamaica is a popular tourist destination.

New Jerseyans of Jamaican descent are celebrating the island nation's 54th year of independence with two events in Plainfield this weekend, to which all Plainfielders are cordially invited.

On Friday, there will be a festive flag raising at Plainfield City Hall, beginning at 6:00 PM. Honored guests will include Jamaican dignitaries and local officials. There will be food and music. The event takes place at City Hall Plaza, Watchung Avenue at East 6th Street.

On Sunday afternoon, there will be a special Service of Thanksgiving, hosted by Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church. Special guests will include government, civic, religious and community leaders. The sermon will be preached by Bishop Jacqueline McCullough, senior pastor of Beth Rapha. The service begins at 4:00 PM and will be followed by a reception at the church.

Jamaica, with 2.5 million citizens, is the third largest anglophone country in the western hemisphere (after the US and Canada). Originally colonized by the Spanish, whose diseases decimated the native Arawak and Taino populations, it became an English colony in 1655.

Slavery was begun under the Spanish and continued under the British until 1838, when total emanicpation was declared. Sugar, molasses and rum from Jamaican plantations formed a key partion of the so-called "triangular trade" which involved Americans (primarily New Englanders) in the evils of slave trading.

Since independence, many Jamaicans have emigrated for economic reasons, and there are large communities in the UK, the US and Canada.

The Jamaican Organization of New Jersey represents residents of Jamaican origin who live in many communities throughout the Garden State, primarily Plainfield, Paterson, the Oranges, and Trenton.

The Plainfield flag raising is the third of four such events scheduled by JONJ, the final one being on August 22 at 5:00 PM at the West Orange Town Hall.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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