The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), an agency of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, celebrated the 97th the anniversary of birth of the Most Honourable Hugh Lawson Shearer, ON, OJ, PC, on Monday, May 18 with a Floral Tribute held at the National Heroes Park in Kingston.
Members of the political directorate and civil society took time out to hail the former Prime Minister for his contribution to Jamaica’s development. Floral tributes were laid by the Most Honourable Andrew Holness, ON, MP, Prime Minister; Senator Lambert Brown, representing Dr. Peter Phillips, MP, Leader of the Opposition; the Most Honourable Mrs. Hugh Shearer, OJ, CD; Senator Kavan Gayle, CD, President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU); the Honourable Pearnel Charles Jr., MP and Danny Roberts, CD, JP, Head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Institute.
The event also saw a melodious performance by local Songbird Charmaine Lemonious who sang a somber rendition of ‘Land of my Birth’.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, CD, MP reflected on Hugh Shearer’s contribution as Prime Minister:
“Among his many achievements during his tenure as Prime Minister, was the construction of three new alumina refineries and three large convention hotels. These formed the base of today’s mining and tourism industries, now the country’s two largest foreign exchange – earners”, Minister Grange said.
She further commented on former Prime Minister Shearer’s roles with the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the Jamaica Labour Party. Shearer took charge of the BITU following Sir Alexander Bustamante’s increasing involvement in representational politics, which made him a force to be reckoned with in the JLP. He held a seat in the JLP Executive as the leading representative of the BITU, a position of strength Minister Grange concluded.
Hugh Lawson Shearer was born in the village of Martha Brae just outside of Falmouth, Trelawny on May 18, 1923 and served as Jamaica’s third Prime Minister from 1967-1972.
He entered the political arena when he was elected a Councillor of the (Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) in 1947. He was appointed Island Supervisor of the BITU and elected Vice-President of the trade union at around the same time. He was also elected to the House of Representatives as a member for Western Kingston from 1955-1959, and on being defeated was appointed to the Legislative Council.
Shearer was a member of the Senate (and its leader) from 1962 to 1967, at the same time filling the role of Jamaica’s chief spokesman on foreign affairs as Deputy Chief of Mission at the United Nations. In 1967 he was elected Member of Parliment for Southern Clarendon and appointed Prime Minister on the death of Sir Donald Sangster in 1967.