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The Contribution of Bob Marley to The Fight Against Racism

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Segregation was a big issue in African nation’s history and Bob Marley was at the forefront in bringing the world together in peace. His songs of peace and love touched many hearts all over the world, and his legacy has persisted for many years. Bob Marley wanted his home country of Jamaica to come together and unite. He dipped his feet into the world of black people and white people, but he didn’t care if he fit in, he just wanted to spread his message to everyone that would be willing to listen. Having a White father and a black mother, he was often ridiculed, being called things like half-caste. Bob Marley didn’t see himself as being white or black, he was himself and that’s all he wanted people to see him as. One of the most iconic songs from Marley ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ (1973) was written to get people in Jamaica to stand up against racism and he believed love was the answer. Bob Marley died in 1981 at the age of 36 from Melanoma, which is a type of cancer. He may be gone, but his family still carries on his legacy standing up for equal rights and justice. His passion to unite the world will never be forgotten, and his mission to stand up for equality and peace will live on forever.

Bob Marley had a rough childhood growing up. His father left at a young age and being born from an interracial marriage was not something people were used to during that time. Norval Marley, which is Bob’s father decided to leave Marley and his mother at a young age. Marley had always resented his father for deciding to leave and treating his mother poorly. This took a big toll on Bob’s life, and he never had the sense of belonging until he came across Rastafarianism. According to Merriam-Webster the definition of Rastafarianism is “a religious movement among black Jamaicans that teaches the eventual redemption of blacks and their return to Africa, employs the ritualistic use of marijuana, forbids the cutting of hair, and venerates Haile Selassie as a god.” Although he believed in the movement of Rastafarianism, he had his beliefs and ideas that he carried with him as well.

In 1975, Marley made a clear stance on what he believed in and what he thought about his race. “My father was white and my mother black, you know. Them call me half-caste, or whatever. Well, me don’t dip on nobody’s side. Me don’t dip on the black man’s side nor the white man’s side. Me dip on God’s side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white, who give me this talent”. Marley’s mission to spread love and positivity and to fight against the “norm” at that time is what led him to be so successful. He had to decide to either continue being ridiculed and taking it personally, or he could try to change it, for everyone. At some point, Marley figured that differentness was used to tear people apart and grew to understand that this mindset needed to be abolished, so he started his overwhelmingly popular idea of one love.

Jamaica was a slave territory along with many others and Marley wanted to speak openly about this, as well as the mental slavery that he dealt with growing up for being mixed. In 1978, Marley was able to unite two separate Jamaican groups in front of the world at the One Love Peace Concert. Regardless of everything Bob Marley went through as a child, he was able to bring his country together and get them to look at the positive aspects in life and live in peace, as one. Many people don’t know about Marley’s attempts to bring Jamaica together. They only know him for his positive message to bring the world together as one through love. Even though he is no longer with us, his message continues to impact the youth in Jamaica, teaching them to love and respect one another, while also appreciating their culture and its roots.

Bob Marley had released his song “One Love” with his band Bob Marley and The Wailers and it went viral. Everyone across the globe were listening to this song and appreciating Bob Marley’s message. Even the British Imperialists that had oppressed the people in Jamaica. One of the things that really didn’t make sense though was that they were loving the song, but they were the ones that had oppressed the people of Jamaica for such a long time. Many of these British Imperialists would also put young people into jail if they had classified themselves as Rastafarians. Although these negative events occurred, it was Marley himself, and the Rasta way of life that gave the younger generation’s hope and wisdom to stand up for what they believe in and to not let their oppressors win.

Bob Marley had always known that there could never be world peace because of all the injustices that happen every day. Many groups in Africa and the Middle East still listen to Marley’s music, and they instill his message into their beliefs to stand up for their rights. The Rastafari had always believed in love, and the ability to spread world peace through music and Marley did an excellent job in doing so. His songs today are used as a beacon of hope, so that one day we may be able to come together as a people through love and hope for a brighter future.

In 1980, Bob Marley held numerous concerts in Zimbabwe and thousands of people came to listen. One event was a closed concert that was held, and thousands of people came and stood outside to hear the music that Marley was playing. The very next day, Bob held a concert that was open to everyone that wanted to listen. It was the first-time reggae was somewhat popular in the country and could be considered at the time, that it was widely accepted in South Africa. Marley stood up for the people in Africa and wanted to ensure that they were treated fairly. He was very adamant on the freedoms of the people in Zimbabwe and their rights as a people. The Rastafari way of life had always been about instilling self-confidence in people and it could be considered as the sole reason for people standing up in Jamaica and Zimbabwe. Many of the leaders in Zimbabwe looked down upon the Rastafarians because they weren’t dressed the way they liked and even took it as far as calling them dirty. Although, it didn’t really matter what the leaders had said, because the message Rastafarians were speaking, was spreading like wildfire across the globe.

Bob Marley knew how badly change was needed. For centuries, slavery was a huge problem all over the world and the ideology behind slavery as well needed to be changed. Marley sought out to change and revolutionize this ideology, and he used the lives of black folks to get people to understand his message. Black people had become one and were noticed as a force that wanted to completely change politics in the world. Especially knowing the background that they had come from, they had a lot of ammunition in the war against slavery. Marley decided to use music to empower these people, and it worked. A lot of the last shows that Marley held before his passing were more political and had the “standing up” feel he had wanted for years.

After Marley’s passing in 1981, his family took it upon themselves to continue his legacy. The fight for Africa to unite was not over, and they wanted to continue what Marley had started in Zimbabwe. They held multiple concerts in Ethiopia with hopes to bring Africa together. Their overall goal was to keep it in the minds of the youth that Marley had once tried to bring Africa together and so long as they believe in peace and love, they too could achieve this. A lot of people believed that this was best for Africa and all over the continent people were playing Marley’s song “Africans Unite.”

Bob Marley was a very controversial person and his beliefs were often questioned, but he was a good man that was standing up for an even better cause. He changed the lives of many people and to this day remains to do so. Bob is an inspiration and his message of peace, love, and unity will forever be a footprint for his legacy. Although he is no longer with us, people continue to fight in his honor to bring the world together. His visions of one day uniting Africa have certainly moved in a positive direction and it wouldn’t have been possible without him. Jamaica is a much better place as well because of all he did to unite his nation.

Marley gave a lot of people hope and a good understanding of why race isn’t important. Coming from someone that was often put-down for his mixed heritage, he knew exactly why it wasn’t important to differentiate people because of the color of their skin. He will never be forgotten, and his legacy will live on for many decades to come. If we all were to take something away from Bob Marley’s message and his songs, we might just be able to see the true meaning of love. Marley was a walking, living, and breathing representation of power and love. So long as his music is played, his vision will never disappear. Bob Marley did more than unite a few nations, he brought love and peace to the world. As once stated by Marley himself “Love the life you live, live the life you love.” 


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