On this day in history, January 5, 1959, Chief Minister Norman Manley upholds the decision made by the Beach Control Authority for the Dunn’s River Beach to remain a public bathing and recreation beach.

The decision by the authority was appealed by the owners of the property through which the river and falls flow, McCormick Shipping Company, which sought to have it declared a hotel beach, which would have excluded Jamaicans from enjoying this natural attraction.

Norman Washington Manley was born at Roxborough, Manchester, on July 4, 1893. He was a brilliant scholar and athlete, soldier (First World War) and lawyer. He identified himself with the cause of the workers at the time of the labour troubles of 1938 and donated time and advocacy to the cause.In September 1938, Manley founded the People’s National Party (PNP) and was elected its President annually until his retirement in 1969, 31 years later.

Manley and the PNP supported the trade union movement, then led by Alexander Bustamante, while leading the demand for Universal Adult Suffrage. When Suffrage came, Manley had to wait ten years and two terms before his party was elected to office.

He was a strong advocate of the Federation of the West Indies, established in 1958, but when Sir Alexander Bustamante declared that the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), would take Jamaica out of the Federation, Norman Manley, already renowned for his integrity and commitment to democracy, called a Referendum, unprecedented in Jamaica, to let the people decide.

Michael Manley, following in his father steps, in the election of 1972, defeated the unpopular incumbent Prime Minister, Hugh Shearer, running on the slogans “Better must come“, “Giving power to the people” and leading “a government of truth“.

Under Manley, Jamaica established a minimum wage for all workers, including domestic workers. In 1974, Manley proposed free education from primary school to university. The introduction of universally free secondary education was a major step in removing the institutional barriers to private sector and preferred government jobs that required secondary diplomas. The PNP government in 1974 also formed the Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL), which administered adult education programs with the goal of involving 100,000 adults a year.

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