A Jamaican Icon - Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou)
Louise Bennett-Coverley, who was born on September 7, 1919 and died on July 26, 2007, was affectionately called Miss Lou. She was a poet, educator, writer, and folklorist.
Through her work, she elevated Jamaican patois from the shadows and the stigma attached to it, and brought it into the mainstream to an art level that is still appreciated to this day.
She worked extensively all over Jamaica, but also the United Kingdom and the United States, performing her poems and folk songs. This work was extremely important in bringing Jamaican folklore to the forefront of Jamaican consciousness, and also the diaspora.
Excerpt from 'Colonization in Reverse'
What an Islan! What a people!
Man and woman, old and young
Jus a pack dem bag and baggage
An turn history upside dung!
Her importance to Jamaica culture was such that she was awarded with the highest honours that the Jamaican government gives to its most deserving citizens.
She was awarded the following honours:
Norman Manley Award for Excellence
The Order of Jamaica (1974)
The Musgrave Silver and Gold medals (for distinguished eminence in the field of Arts and Culture)
Honorary Doctor of Letters -University of the West Indies (1983)
Honorary Doctor of Letters - York University (1998)
Appointed Cultural Ambassador at Large for Jamaica (2001)
Order of Merit (for distinguished contribution to the development of Arts and Culture) 2001
Miss Lou will forever be held close to the hearts of all Jamaicans and others within the diaspora. Her work regarding our folkloric heritage will always be the foundation upon which we further build upon.