It’s been nearly 39 years since the incomparable Bob Marley took his last breath, but his message of resistance, empowerment, and justice still remains today. On Tuesday, to coincide with The Legend’s year-long 75th birthday celebration, and in coordination with Women’s History Month, the Bob Marley Legacy Series released episode number 2: Women Rising, a look at the women behind Marley’s acclaim and the political movements he still inspires today.
The mini-documentary features interviews with Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, and Marcia Griffiths, known collectively as The I Threes, as well as female musicians, academics, and activists who are propelled by his work. “Celebrating women and their strength feels more appropriate and crucial than ever,” Marley’s daughter, Cedella Marley, exclusively tells ESSENCE about Women Rising. “With millions of Mothers, daughters, female doctors, nurses and carers contending with so much right now, we are reminded never to underestimate our own individual and collective power.”
Though Marley’s music is renowned, in part, because of its mass appeal, women, in particular, have found comfort in his words. His primary message of emancipation, rebellion against systems of oppression, and fighting for rights are now a part of his legacy of female empowerment. The documentary shows how it helped Seyi Akiwowo, a British-Nigerian women’s rights activist find her political voice and find a level of relief in the midst of chaos. At 15 she was activated by her friend’s murder, choosing to enter politics and become a positive force in the movement to elevate women.
“Our family has always been a matriarchal one, and Daddy always reminded us that the woman of the house is the boss,” Cedella says. “To think he inspired and empowered so many women across the world is incredible. I hope his music continues to lift others, even during these difficult times the world currently finds itself in.”
Other academics and activists featured in the Women Rising doc echo her sentiments, noting that the same man who skillfully taught Black History through song, continues to teach a legion of women that they can come together and stand up for justice. “Every song of his is still relevant,” Marley’s granddaughter Mystic Marley maintains. “Things that happen politically and things that happen in the social world and the real-life things and the spiritual things… All of his messages still stand.”