Michael Thompson Pennsylvania 0

Stop the Attack on Alpha Boys' School

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Recently the Jamaican Minister of Culture Lisa Hanna has launched a smearing campaign on the 100 year old Alpha Boys' School. This school which is operated by Sisters of Mercy in Kingston, Jamaica, is a wonderful and historic institution. Established over a century ago to take care of wayward boys. The school is an amazing Jamaican Success Story and their renowned music program is instrumental in creating some of the foundation musicians who created Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae. The boys are ward of the state and are placed in the care of the Sisters at Alpha by the government. With very little funds from the government the Sisters and volunteers struggle with meager funding, performing miracles with the little they have to keep the school running. Alpha Boys School should be a model for how an institution can turn young lives into productive good citizens. For reasons unknown and with little concern or compassion for the boys the minister has used her position of power to paint damaging slander on the school's reputation.

The renowned Alpha Boys' School was founded in the 1880's in Central Kingston, Jamaica as a home for wayward boys, providing them with an education and vocational training. The musical program at the School matured and gained a unique stature during the jazz-era of the 1940s and '50s. This period saw the training of the majority of Jamaica's top hornsmen, many of whom would go on to be instrumental in the development of the island's first indigenous pop music: ska. Ska's most famous supergroup was the Skatalites, and four of its founding members -- Tommy McCook, Johnny "Dizzy" Moore, Lester Sterling and the internationally-recognized Don Drummond -- were all graduates of the Alpha Boys' School. The Drummond-composed ska instrumental "Eastern Standard Time" (1964) was a perennial favorite for the Jamaican-born Sister Ignatius, who also ran Sound System dances for the students at Alpha. Alpha graduates went on to feature prominently in the emerging musical styles of Ska, rock steady and then reggae. Without Alpha we do not have Reggae Music.

Let's show our support and demand the Jamaican government put a stop to Minister Lisa Hanna attack and demand she apologize to the defenseless students and Sisters of Alpha Boys' School.

Michael Thompson
FREESTYLEE, Artist Without Borders

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