Famous Faces, Jamaican Roots

According to statistics, there are some three million Jamaicans or people of Jamaican descent living in other countries around the world. Quite a few of them have achieved popularity in a number of fields over the years, including politics and public service, the arts, sports and more. We have compiled a list of some of these famous faces with Jamaican roots in Politics & Public Service, The Arts, Thinkers and Teachers, Sports

Politics & Public Service

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (left) and her mother, former City Council member Una Clarke, are the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the council.

Diane Abbott – Abbott was born in 1953 to Jamaican immigrant parents in London. She created history in 1987 when she became the first black woman ever elected to the British Parliament as the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. She was the Shadow Public Health Minister from October 2010 to October 2013. Abbott is a somewhat controversial figure, with a record of opposing some party policies, such as voting against the Iraq war. An eloquent speaker, the Cambridge University grad’s speech on civil liberties, in the debate on the Counter-Terrorism Bill Act 2008 won The Spectator magazine’s “Parliamentary Speech of the Year” award and was also recognised at the 2008 Human Rights awards.

Rosemary Brown – Brown was born in Kingston in 1930 and moved to Canada in 1951 to study at McGill University in Montreal. She served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the British Columbia legislature from 1972 to 1986, making her the first black woman to be elected to a Canadian provincial legislature. After ending her political career, she became a professor of women’s studies at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Brown died of a heart attack in 2003. In 2009, Canada Post Corporation featured Brown on a postage stamp released in February 2009.

Dr Una Clarke – Clarke was the first Caribbean-born woman elected to the New York City legislature. She was born in St Elizabeth and migrated to the States as a foreign student in 1958. Elected in 1991, Clarke’s decade-long tenure saw her sponsored more than 300 pieces of legislation on a issues ranging from child welfare, education, health and mental health, economic development, public safety and transportation. In 1992, Clarke served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and was later appointed as a delegate to the Electoral College.

Yvette Clarke – Clarke is a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives. This child of Jamaican immigrant parents has lived all her life in the Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of Flatbush, which has a large West Indian population. She was sworn into office as the representative for New York’s 9th district on January 3, 2013. Prior to that, Clarke was the representative for the 11th district from 2007, before it was redistricted last year. Before entering Congress in 2007, she was a member of the New York City Council, representing the 40th council district in Brooklyn, succeeding her mother, Dr Una Clarke. This was the first mother-to-daughter succession in city council history.