Ras Sam Brown (16 December 1925-August 1998) was a Jamaican Rastafari elder who participated in the elections of 1961 with his Suffering People’s Party.
He received fewer than 100 votes but he was the first Rasta to ever stand for politics.
He was born into the Rastafari movement and met Marcus Garvey at age five when he attended a political rally with his mother.
His mother’s political activities embedded in Sam an understanding of the importance of politically derived power, although not formally trained due to his family’s extreme poverty.
A devout Rasta, Sam Brown was also a powerful and provocative speaker. He made speeches at the Smithsonian, the University of Vermont, and many Rastafarian International Conferences.
During the 1960s Ras Sam lead a group of Rastas at the Back-o-Wall Rastafarian Movement Recruitment Centre camp near Denham Town, near his friend Prince Emmanuel’s African National Congress camp. Both were subsequently raided and destroyed by the police in 1966.
He ran for Western Kingston electoral seat for Jamaica’s Parliament position. This was the first real foray by a practicing Rasta into the fast paced, all-important social realm of the political.
Ras Sam, with his Twenty-One Points foundation brought attention to the movement, positive political attention, and forced the government to appreciate Rastas as a real minority part of Jamaica’s population.
The Twenty-One Points became the very bedrock of the political aspect of the Rastafarian movement throughout the 1960s, a period of time marked by transition of Jamaica from status as a Crown Colony of the United Kingdom to an independent nation.
Reference: Barrett, The Rastafarians, Kingston & London: Sangsters/Heinemann, 1977
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