In honor of Black History Month and Bob Marley

A guest post from the wonderful Stephanie Officer, whose passion oozes from the page. Personally, I’ve never been a huge Marley fan—but I get it, and love the message within his music …

On a Flatbush block in Brooklyn, in a building that commands fresh hedges and pansies every Spring, I was 9 when my mother & I lived on the 5th floor.  Weekend mornings announced themselves in the form of a Bob Marley baseline, The Wailers on the chorus. Sunbeams pierced the blinds and made their way through the makeshift living room greenhouse. In the Summer, these same beams shared roids with Clemens.

My mother hardly found these days as enchanting.  Instead it was “the fat boy upstairs, his [Insert 5-letter expletive here] girlfriend, and their music again.” Pretty pansies, crappy soundproofing. It never bothered me so much, I almost looked forward to the selection he’d play.  Maybe it’s different because an adult’s head can take less aggravation than that of a child’s.

Funny, that exchange of pulsating speakers and red broom scuff marks on the ceiling still remind me of weekend mornings with my mom. Bacon was always the co-star.

Marley would re-introduce himself in private school and college as tapestry on the walls of blonde boys. Eyebrows and hairlines met when they’d learned this (half) Jamaican did not smoke. Marley became the international symbol for Mari-joo-wana. Had this been the most significant memory of a man who introduced reggae, the pulse of a tiny sun-drenched isle to the entire world, and became it’s 1st international pop star? (Attention Snow, your thanks & apologies to the Marley family are in order) Had this been all they remembered of the revolutionary from St. Ann, JA, at a time where poverty & injustice were only to be seen & endured?

No.

Norman Manley.

Robert Nesta Marley.

My Father.

Clifton Officer is “one of those things unlike the other”, the improbable mention among these visionaries.

Currently the proudest Jamaican on Earth, I was made to believe the the Sun rose, set, and was created on the banks of Ocho Rios.

“Dem kall ‘im Robert Nesta Marley. Di won di baddest ting fi evar come from Jamaica. Nuh tru?”

One never dissents from such vigor.

“Jamaica ‘ave di best music, di best food, di most beautiful ‘oman … youh never did see anyting suh. Pass mi Red Stripe.”

I nod and smile, he is talking to 6-year old me.

Buried underneath worries of a cheerleader-less Super Bowl & Sarah Palin’s incompetence Reagan’s 100th speeches lies Black History Month, and a birthday that would have been Marley’s 66th. A section of Brooklyn’s Church Ave. (where it meets Nostrand and stretches to 98th st.) was re-named “Bob Marley Boulevard” in 2006. His music resounds here, and still remains relevant today:

– According to iTunes Reggae, he’s on top of the charts in 19 countries, including Germany, Australia, France, Spain, Greece, Iceland & Switzerland. (Yes, the U.S. is included.)

– Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Legend has sold 25 million worldwide, (13.5 in the U.S.) it’s. the biggest selling Reggae album in history.

– According to Billboard, this is the 962nd week Legend has charted, the 2nd longest ever. (Pink Flloyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon is #1 at 990.)

– Last year a CNN poll of Global icons noted Marley as one of the Top 5.

Certainly all of this is no match to his actual contributions, just accolades that accompany the terriotry.  You would need Oprah’s OWN, MTV, BET, VH1Soul, TV1 & The History Channel for an entire week to showcase this man’s influence, but hopefully everyone can identify their own Marley memories that elicit smiles. Or Tye Dye.

Here’s my favorite.


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