Success of Bob Marley Film Boosts Plans for Jamaican Heritage and Reggae Museum in Delaware

Judy Malcolm of Wilmington, Delaware, is a second cousin to reggae legend Bob Marley. Interest in her plan to establish a museum dedicated to Jamaican heritage received a significant boost since the release of the film, “Bob Marley: One Love.” As defined by Malcolm, the museum’s mission is to educate the public about Jamaica’s history and culture. Wilmington is a perfect location because it boasts the largest population of Jamaicans in the state, which counts more than 6,000 Jamaicans among its residents.

The Marley connection

According to Malcolm, many people travel to Jamaica because of its reggae music, food, and Patois language. Additionally, she said, “What seems to be happening is you can’t say reggae music without Bob.” Marley spent time in Wilmington where his mother, Cedella Booker, lived in the 1970s. While he was not in the city very long, members of his family lived there, and he visited frequently during his lifetime as he was very close to his family.

“Not supposed to happen this fast”

When the movie premiered at the Cinemark Christiana and XD movie theater in Wilmington, Malcolm planned to attend and take a quick group photograph with some of her family. However, the event spurred a more extensive family reunion, and the city’s mayor, Michael Purzycki, came to present the family with a proclamation that recognized Black History Month and the legacy of Bob Marley. The Malcolm family had invited Mayor Purzycki to join them at the premiere to discuss their history and ways to celebrate and preserve Jamaican culture. While plans for the museum are in the preliminary stages, support for the idea is growing rapidly, which surprised Judy Malcolm who said she was building the concept slowly and trying to get everything together to create a website as it was still an evolving idea. “This was not supposed to happen so fast,” she said.

Museum will present the Jamaican “vibe”

Malcolm’s vision for the museum is to create a place where all people can come together to appreciate Jamaica’s culture, including the food, the music, and the warmth and friendliness of the island’s population. Malcolm emphasized that the space must communicate the “Jamaican vibe.” Expanding on her statement, she said, “There’s something about the Jamaican vibe that kind of encompasses the whole thing about our culture.” The life story and legacy of reggae star Bob Marley will just be one part of the museum collection, but fortunately, she noted, Bob Marley is part of the “richness of Jamaica,” which is what will attract visitors to the exhibits.

Photo – City of Delaware