The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 38, Issue 1

Article 4
Early Stirrings of Black Nationalism in Colonial Jamaica: Alexander Bedward of the Jamaica Native Baptist Free Church 1889-1921

Veront M. Satchell


Alexander Bedward, minister of the revivalist Jamaica Native Baptist Free Church during the period 1889-1921, emerged as one of the island’s earliest black nationalists. Under the guise of religion Bedward called on the black majority to rise up and take action against the prevailing system of racial discrimination, socio-economic deprivation, injustice, the tyranny of minority colonial rule, and to establish a government representative of the people. While he was revered by the masses, attracting thousands of followers at home and abroad, he was feared by the upper classes and colonial authorities, who saw him as a threat to political stability. An antagonistic relationship developed between the government and Bedward. Eventually, he was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to the lunatic asylum, where he later died.