Nanny, Queen of the Maroons

While here in America we debated our mixed feelings about Harriet Tubman being featured on the twenty dollar bill, Jamaicans gave their national hero, Queen Nanny her fitting place on the highest bill in circulation, the $500 bill. Queen Nanny is considered the Harriet Tubman of Jamaica because she too was a freedom fighter and a liberator of her people. She was one of the most influential leaders of the Maroons, a community of formerly enslaved Africans who escaped to freedom and established their own settlements in the mountains of Jamaica.

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Queen Nanny was a fierce warrior woman who is believed to have freed nearly a thousand people in her lifetime.  She was a brilliant tactician and military strategist able to keep her community safe in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica for many years. Her significance to the history of Jamaican people cannot be overstated as a cultural, spiritual and military leader.  She was able to hold back British forces during the most intense period of resistance, 1725-1740


Recognizing and celebrating a woman such as Queen Nanny is an important part of educating our children.  Her story not only teaches our children about her contributions to her people but it also teaches them about their potential for greatness and their ability to be empowered.  According to Urban Intellectuals, several Maroon communities continue to thrive and maintain their traditions. “Eleven Maroon settlements remain on the lands apportioned to them in the original treaty with the British. These Maroons still maintain their own traditional celebrations and practices, some of which have West African origin.”

This first of official day of Women’s History Month (WHM) affords us, as educators, more opportunities to teach, encourage and inspire our students with stories of women like Queen Nanny and there are many more like her throughout history.  Here are some titles you may want to explore further:

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Also feminist scholar, Clare Johnson Washington offers some excellent research and scholarship to help you prepare to teach this significant history. We hope you make the most of this month and tell the other half of history that is too often overlooked and minimized. Tell our children of brave, powerful and amazing women like Queen Nanny, because without women like her we wouldn’t be.

Peace and love good people!


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