Renowned Jamaican poet and noted activist Louise Bennett-Coverley, popularly known as Miss Lou, is being honored by Google with a Doodle on what would have been her 103rd birthday today, September 7.
Beyond her activism, Miss Lou will always be fondly remembered for her dedication to Jamaican folklore and her commitment to using entertainment and humor to educate the island about its proud culture.
The internet giant also shared a brief history about the Doodle and Miss Lou as they shared that it was illustrated by Jamaican guest artist Robyn Smith.
Bennett was born on September 7, 1919, in Kingston, Jamaica, and quickly developed a passion for literature and Jamaican folklore in school. This led her to start penning poems which, coincidentally, is where she developed an affinity for the Jamaican dialect. As her career blossomed, she became most famously known for her infusion of Jamaican patois at her performances.
Miss Lou’s work continued to grow in popularity, and led to her getting her own weekly column in The Gleaner. Her work became extremely vital to helping with national pride as Jamaican patois was often looked down on as the language of the uneducated and poor. Her tireless efforts made patois not only fun but something the entire nation felt proud about once again.
Miss Lou’s work was so important to the Jamaican people that she was eventually honored with the MBE, the Norman Manley Award for Excellence (in the field of Arts), and the Order of Jamaica in 1974. Her other accolades included the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Silver and Gold Medals for distinguished eminence in the field of Arts and Culture.
Louise Bennett-Coverley / Louise Simone Bennett Coverley Estate
The University of the West Indies also recognized her invaluable contribution in 1983 by awarding her an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters. Her accomplishments extend as long as the longevity of her career as the Jamaican Government also appointed her Cultural Ambassador at Large for the island.
It was no easy road getting all the recognition she did either, as she also had to face a time of intense racism. Bennett-Coverley persisted in sharing Jamaica’s wealth of culture and was appointed a Member of the Order of Merit for her distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts and Culture.
After that stint, she returned to the island in 1956 and worked as a Drama Officer before being named Director of the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission. She undertook the work of traveling around the country to train village instructors and regional officers with workshops like playmaking, improvisation, and mime.
Her fame would soon take her back overseas to give lectures on Jamaican folklore in the United States and England. She also hosted many popular radio shows, including Laugh with Louise and Miss Lou’s Views, and Ring Ding. Miss Lou, considered Jamaica’s greatest comedienne died in Canada on July 26, 2006.