Bob Marley 

“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.” Bob Marley-1975

Nesta Robert Marley more commonly known as Bob Marley was born February 6, 1945 in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica. He would grow to become the most successful Caribbean recording artist of all time selling over 135 million total albums in his career.  But despite his becoming a global superstar, most are unaware that he was born to a white father, Captain Norval Marely and a black mother, Cedella Booker.Because of his mixed-race heritage, Bob was bullied and nicknamed “White Boy” by his neighbors in the desperately poor slums of Jamaica. The teasing was relentless, and Mr. Marley would eventually find out that no amount of money or fame could erase the psychological aftermath of being an abandoned child of an interracial marriage in the 50’s and 60’s. This persistent mentality of resentment and embarrassment sculpted Marley’s youth and eventually influenced his music.

Although is musical talent was obvious, it would take almost two decades (1962-1980) before he would reach the status as a music icon. His song “One Love” was designated Song of the Millennium by the BBC.  His 1977 album “Exodus” was named Album of the Century by Time Magazine and he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. His compilation album “Legend” has sold well over 15 million copies since its release in 1991 and continues to sell over 200,000 albums per year. In 2001, Marley was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy’s and his continued popularity keep him annually on the top 10 Highest-Earning Dead Celebrities in the world (He earned 21 million dollars in 2017!) His greatest achievement in my opinion was in his receiving The United Nations Peace Medal which commemorates those around the world whose life and work promote peace.

Marley’s music certainly continues to inspire and influence music, fashion, politics and culture around the world. Noting this fact at Mr. Marley’s funeral, Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Searga declared in his funeral eulogy, “His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.”

Alexis Cook

Project RACE Teens Co-President

Photo: Getty Images