Howard Johnson

Examines the development of the reputation of George William Gordon in Jamaican collective remembering, in relation to changing social, political, and cultural contexts. Author describes Gordon's mixed-raced/brown background and later parliamentary activities in support of poor black labourers, and how he was sentenced to death by governor Eyre for supposedly inciting the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion led by Paul Bogle. He relates how Gordon was in British historiography depicted as a traitor, while soon after 1865 Gordon was also defended as martyr and hero, and as unjustly sentenced. He shows how up to the early 20th c. the establishment perspective of Gordon as traitor and agitator persisted, but that competing discourses also developed. These came more to the fore since the introduction of universal adult suffrage in 1944, when Gordon first was publicly recognized as a patriot, and he was increasingly seen as national hero after independence. In addition, Gordon was presented, e.g. by the JLP, as a symbol of brown-black cooperation across race and class. Author notes, however, how this was also contested, and that a reputational decline of Gordon set in since the 1980s, increasing after 1992, due to sharpened brown-black divides, related to economic decline among Jamaica's black majority and black nationalism.

Carol Schersten LaHurd, Donald A. Hagner, Luke Timothy Johnson, Frank Anthony Spina, James A. Walther and Howard Clark Kee