Crowdfunding Campaign to Publish Biographies of Marcus Garvey and Mary Seacole


Jamaican entrepreneur and publisher Tanya Batson-Savage, not in the least intimidated by the current COVID-related economic uncertainties, has come up with a great way to move forward with a new project aimed at Jamaican young people through her company, Blue Banyan Books. She is that kind of determined entrepreneurial woman. I agree with Tanya: children should really get to know the extraordinary Jamaicans that people the island’s history. They led exciting lives, broke barriers, and translated their vision into action. I think graphic novels are a great format that will appeal to this age group – and will really bring Marcus and Mary to life.

If you would like to contribute to the campaign and help Jamaican children learn and enjoy their history, do go to the Indiegogo site here. If you would like to contact Tanya directly, drop her a line at books@bluebanyanbooks.com. And find Blue Banyan Books on Facebook

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Blue Banyan Books.

Crowdfunding Campaign to Publish Biographies of Marcus Garvey and Mary Seacole

Kingston-based independent publisher Blue Banyan Books has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the popular Indiegogo site to support their ambitious plan to publish graphic novels about Mary Seacole and Marcus Garvey.

While graphic novels have become increasingly popular among readers of all ages, and particularly engaging for the young, Caribbean publishing has generally steered clear of this dynamic format – in large part due to the cost, which is prohibitive for small publishing houses.

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Novelist and Garvey advocate Geoffrey Philp. (Photo: Facebook)

The twinned biographies will target children 8-12 years old. Celebrated poet, novelist and Garvey advocate Geoffrey Philp, winner of a Canute Brodhurst Prize and James Michener Fellowship, authors My Name is Marcus. Philp’s works include Benjamin, My Son and Garvey’s Ghost. Djet Lane, one of the most exciting illustration talents in Kingston today, will illustrate the graphic novel.

My Name is Mary will be authored by Tanya Batson-Savage (Pumpkin Belly and Other Stories), based on the fantastic research skills of Winsome Hudson, former National Librarian of Jamaica. Seacole’s life and travels will be illustrated by Staysean Daley, an illustrator, designer and entrepreneur.

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Former National Librarian of Jamaica Winsome Hudson (left) compares notes with her successor, Beverley Lashley at a celebration of World Poetry Day in Kingston in March, 2018. (My photo)

The campaign funds will cover the full development of both biographies including illustration, design, printing and marketing.

“With all that’s gone wrong with 2020, one thing that has gone right is the world’s coming to terms with racial injustice. Jamaica must be a part of this conversation, and who better to start with than Garvey and Seacole,” said Batson-Savage, who also helms Blue Banyan. “They are two of the greats Jamaica gave to the world, but our own children don’t know enough about them.”

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This quite splendid bronze statue of Jamaican Mary Seacole was unveiled in 2016 at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, after years of campaigning and fund-raising by the Black British community. For some reason this did not cause much of a stir in Jamaica. This is the first statue of a black woman in the UK, and I think we should be proud!

Mary Seacole, born in Kingston in 1805, was herself a victim of Cholera but attended to the sick in Jamaica, in Panama, and, during the Crimean War. Born almost a century later on August 17, 1887, Garvey was a formidable public speaker who helped to shape the modern civil rights movement, promoting ideas of social resilience and racial equality.

The biographies signal Blue Banyan’s first foray into non-fiction. The press published fan favourites Sandy, Tosh and the Moo Cow (Paula-Anne Porter Jones), Diane Browne’s Commonwealth prize winner, The Happiness Dress; while Burt Award for Young Adult Literature prize-winners All Over Again (A-dZiko Simba Gegele) and Girlcott (Florenze Webb Maxwell) were published under its imprint Blouse & Skirt Books.

The biographies won’t be the first pieces of ground-breaking work published by the imprint, which produced the poetry collection In This Breadfruit Kingdom, selected by Mervyn Morris; as well as Una Marson’s plays Pocomania and London Calling.

“It isn’t accidental that both Seacole and Garvey published their own stories, were fearless in the face of racism and were entrepreneurs. They understood the power of the written word and the value of entrepreneurship. I also think it’s very important that these stories aren’t just coming from the big publishing houses, but that Jamaicans are telling our stories,” said Batson-Savage.

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4 thoughts on “Crowdfunding Campaign to Publish Biographies of Marcus Garvey and Mary Seacole

  1. I personally would love to see more work done on both of Garvey’s wives who did so much in raising the movement around the world and were did much to help develop the intellectual ideas for which he is generally credited. Women are far too easily shut out of Jamaican history.

    Like

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