Stephen Marley Honored With ‘Key To The City’ Of Wilmington, His And Bob Marley’s First US Home

Eight-time Grammy Award winner Stephen Marley, the second eldest son of Reggae legends Bob and Rita Marley, received a Mayoral Tribute and a ‘Key to the City’ of Wilmington, Delaware, from Mayor Mike Purzycki during a ceremony on Wednesday (March 21) at The One Love Park.

“It’s a very emotional moment here,” said Marley upon receiving his Key to the City. “I do give thanks to everyone who made this possible…my family. Wilmington [is] home. I have fond memories of running across the street to the park and my father…I have fond memories here and thank you. I’m not a man of many words. I love you all. I feel at home.”

The Key

“Thank you, Mr Mayor.  We’re family again, and everyone that made this possible, zeen.  Key to the city! Our city!” he continued.

The link between the Marley family and Delaware was established by Bob Marley’s mother, Cedella Malcolm-Booker, who left Jamaica in 1962 and settled in Wilmington at a house near the intersection of 24th and Tatnall Streets. Bob Marley, who was expelled from the United States twice, had several stints in Wilmington (between 1963 and 1977), which were sometimes spent working and saving to further his musical ambitions, and it resulted in songs such as Bend Down Low and Night Shift.

Stephen, 51, was born in the city on April 20, 1972.

The park across the street in which he and his siblings used to play, then known as Tatnall Playground, was rededicated as “One Love Park” in April 2014, almost exactly 10 years ago.  Members of the Malcolm family (Cedella’s family name) still live in the house.

On Wednesday, Stephen was also presented with a framed copy of the original ordinance renaming the park of his childhood, signed by Mayor Dennis Williams on April 7, 2014.

Stephen Marley with community members

“What’s really important to us is to reflect on our community,” Mayor Purzycki said in comments to Stephen Marley. “And when you see everybody here at this event, there is a depth of feeling that reminds us what community is all about. We appreciate that, and it’s a tribute to you that you have so many folks who want to be with you here today.”

The Mayor extended a warm welcome to Stephen on behalf of the City of Wilmington and saluted his contributions to the world of music as he carries on his father’s legacy.

From left: Wilmington Mayor Purzycki, Stephen Marley, and Chief of Staff Tanya Washington

“Wilmington is proud of its connection to the Marley family, which continues to this day through the Malcolms, and wants all members of the Marley family to know they will always have a home here as Wilmington holds them in our collective heart.”

Stephen is currently on the “Traffic Jam” tour of North America with his younger brother, Damian Marley. The brief visit to One Love Park came in between tour stops in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The ceremony was organized by Elite Entertainment.  

The Mayoral Tribute
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