History


Maurice Bishop’s 1983 Hunter College Speech, an Historical Turning Point

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Research Paper On Martin Luther King Jr Great speeches have marked pivotal historical turning points in the life of movements. A sampling of these great speeches are Sojourner Truth’s “Aint I a Woman” (1851), Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” (Washington D.C., 1963), Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie 1963 speech delivered to the United Nations (popularized in the Bob Marley song “War”), Dr. Eric Eustace Williams’ 1960 “March in the Rain” speech (demanding the return of Chagaramas), Fidel Castro’s “History Will Absolve Me” (1961), and Ida B. Wells’ “This Awful Slaughter” (1909).

Grenada’s revolutionary leader Maurice Bishop’s June 5, 1983, speech to an overflowing and highly enthusiastic crowd at Hunter College in NYC belongs in league with such significant speeches. Grenada had only recently celebrated the 4th anniversary of the March 13th, 1979 revolution and while still extraordinarily popular among the Grenadian people and among supporters worldwide, fissures were beginning to become evident within the revolutionary leadership. In the speech, Bishop outlined the extraordinary gains of the process but also highlighted the unrelenting pressures of U.S imperialism on the aspiring but vulnerable microstate.

This special Big Drum Nation issue will feature three aspects of this reflection: I) an analysis of the man and the moment (revolutionary leader Maurice Bishop and the conjuction of history), II) a personal reflection (multimedia) by the then Ambassador to the United Nation, Caldwell Taylor, on some of the behind the scenes factors that foretold the subsequent implosion of October 1983 and finally III, reflections from some  attendees of the historic June 5th event. – BigDrumNation

Professional Writing University We hereby present the first of these three installments:

Essay Writers Wanted Online Writing Paper Services The Anatomy of a Man: Maurice Bishop & 5th June, 1983 – Al Rougier

Business Lesson Plan by Atiba Rougier

I don’t use the words “political figure” to describe Maurice Bishop for many reasons but the most pressing of them is this: I see humanity in his leadership through his words, his speeches and the manner in which he lived his life, even to the very end as he stood against the cemented wall at Fort Rupert on 19th October, 1983. Within the colonial walls where he died, he once stood being honoured as Comrade and prime minister of the People’s Revolution. After speaking with Caldwell Taylor, former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, Liam James, Annie Bain and Sylvia Belmar amongst many others, the man [Maurice], is more prevalent and interesting to me than the “political figure” the world sees and assumes to know.

Last summer I spent hours on the telephone conducting interviews and having conversations with local Grenadians, international journalists and scholars and what I’ve gathered is that Maurice was misunderstood in many ways. Because of this, when I am alone, in moments of sacred silence, I think aloud and I call him Boo Radley—To Kill a Mockingbird. Boo was misjudged but he was one of the silent heroes of Harper Lee’s prolific novel—if not the ultimate hero, next to Atticus Finch. Boo is special because he saved Scout and Gem from the racist prejudicial mob of Maycomb County and reminded us [the readers] of the harm that can be done when we misjudge and prejudge individuals based upon societal biases. He was a good man who people didn’t understand because they didn’t know him—prejudgments clouded their vision and they made misguided assumptions about him, which during his lifetime, Maurice empathised with. Even now that he is no longer with us in this tangible world of sights, sounds, tastes and smells, Maurice is still misunderstood and discussed in the lens of a political figure rather than a son, father, brother, husband or a friend.

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Many of the individuals closest to Maurice and who knew him well died alongside their friend and comrade—the others either died from natural causes or remain tight-lipped, traumatized from the events of October 1983, on that small isle of spice. Compiling a biographical composition of an individual thirty-three years later under these conditions poses a challenge. The loved ones who are left are either extremely distressed and don’t wish to talk and others weren’t close enough to Maurice to give substantial details on his character or who he was. However, in 2007, ten years ago, I stumbled upon a news article marking the 24th Anniversary of Maurice’s assassination. In it, his friend describes the final two days of Maurice’s life, from visiting him on the 18th during his house arrest to being jolted by the sound of machine guns on the 19th coming from Fort Rupert:

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To historically understand revolution and armed overthrow as a discourse, one must examine the men at centre stage. The ones who started it, the ones who fought for it, and the ones who later died for it. By studying these men one can understand the systematic successes and failures of political rebellion, in this case Maurice Bishop, the NJM, and the Grenada Revolution. Constructing an image of a man through an archaeological narrative is demanding. It is even more uninviting when this man did not leave a journal or diary behind [or they were destroyed]. His printed speeches are the relics of a distant past that I’ve combed through searching for flesh, blood, and emotions to separate the political figure from the man. I have ravaged through his written words searching for clues of his sensibility and consciousness to understand what he thought, what he felt, and what he desired—those entities of personality are absent from the pages in hand. It is hard reading his speeches in today’s climate because retrospectively, the artistic manipulation and effective use of words and discourses are poignantly clear and ever present.

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The histories we’ve inherited—what does it mean to inherit history and what is the responsibility of the inheritor? It is with this historical umbilical cord I’ve attempted to answer these questions—who was Maurice Bishop? What did the revolutionary fighters know about Maurice? What did counter-revolutionary populace know about Maurice? What did ‘children of the revo’ know about Bishop? What do the ‘babies of the revolution’ know about Maurice? Not much! Therefore, it is safe to assume that Maurice Bishop is the Boo Radley of the Grenadian Revolution. I am fascinated by the idea of the relationship between Maurice and his father, Rupert, and how early events shaped his political trajectory?

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The political figure of Maurice is as polarizing as Rome’s Mark Antony and Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto. All these political icons are considered charismatic, eloquent, charming, courageous but their most prominent trait seems to be their political ascension through the politics of death, revolutionary fervour, absolute courage and determination, incomparable ambition, democratic hypocrisies and their untimely and almost fatalistic, violent deaths. Given that Maurice died abruptly and suddenly, there is no autobiographical or biographical text related to his life and legacy, or who he was as a man (son, father, brother and friend) but only the man in his shirt-jack standing next to other Latin American or Caribbean radical/Marxist/Communist leaders during the Reagan Administration of the 1970s and 80s. And it is in this image, standing next to Fidel and Manley and Ortega that he has been unfairly embalmed within the pages of World History, though, he was unlike the others because he was uniquely Maurice, as demonstrated in this photo:

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I happily struggle to compose a photo of Bish or Bishy or Maurice or M.B. or Dad or friend, as he was loving called by loved ones and those who addressed letters to him “Dear Maurice” and who closed with signatures like: “Take care of yourself. Warm regards….”  As previously stated, in many ways Maurice reminds me of Boo Radley because I believe that Maurice was a man misunderstood. A man who embodied goodness but was grotesquely misrepresented because of the hijacking of his leadership by power hungry sycophants. Like Boo, he protected children and fought against injustice and imperialist bullies. I am drawn to the ending scene of To Kill a Mockingbird the more I read about Maurice. I am reminded of the final dialogue between Atticus and Scout and Scout’s question to him, “Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?” Like the mockingbird, it was a sin to kill Maurice because all he did was sing to us, like mockingbirds do. It is easy to cast blame and call him names because of his associates and political alliances. To continue using Harper Lee’s classic as a marker for understanding the massacre on 19th October, 1983, Scout’s final words echoes true: “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.” I often wondered about Maurice and attempted to separate the man from the myths and legends about him; however, I have come to the conclusion that just reading and listening to stories about him, is enough—no need to walk in his shoes, I would not be able to stand upright and steady from the weight of what he had to carry.

Letter from Gail

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Today, 5th June, 2017—marks thirty-four years after his eloquent delivery at Hunter College, NYC! This letter (pictured above) speaks to what was delivered…there’s advice as to what he should do or say and the reasons why. Fascinating to put the pieces together for a holistic image of the man versus the political figure.

This project stemmed from multiple conversations with Caldwell Taylor and an e-mail exchange with Martin Felix—they will be presenting an oral piece on their experience on June 5th, they were both present. Caldwell on stage seated behind Maurice as part of his entourage and Martin, in the audience. Here is a photo taken from the YouTube video that captured the illustrious and ominous evening:

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Sunsets & Sailboats,

-A.L.R

Photos: some are mine, some were sent to me by Caldwell Taylor and others were taken from Google Images.

© June 2017


Women’s Rights are Human Rights — Keisha-Gaye Anderson

March 8 is celebrated globally as International Women’s Day (IWD). Originally organized by the Socialist Party of America, the celebrations first took place in February 1909 and were called International Working Women’s Day.  Big Drum Nation is commemorating the occasion by posting women’s reflections on the struggle for equality.
Every year the celebrations embrace a special theme reflecting the urgency of the moment. This year, proceeding from the World Economic Forum’s prediction that the gender gap is unlikely to close entirely until 2186, the theme addresses this unacceptable state of gender inequity as a human rights urgency. Big Drum Nation joins IWD in the campaign to #BeBoldForChange following up on last year’s Pledge for Parity Campaign. It is a quest for women and girls to achieve their ambitions, challenge conscious and unconscious gender bias, push for gender balanced leadership, value women’s equality, encourage inclusive flexible cultures, and for more gender inclusiveness.
We asked Jamaican-born poet and writer Keisha-Gaye Anderson  what International Women’s Day means to her. Here’s her response:
“It is important that this day is earmarked to call attention to women’s issues worldwide. We are witnessing a very important shift in the movement for women’s equality, with the recent women’s marches all over the globe and organized efforts to push against legislation that would further marginalize women or dictate what they should/should not do with their bodies. Never before have we seen such broad awareness and acceptance of the notion that women’s rights are human rights. And given our interconnectedness via media and the internet, I see this movement only growing. In a sense, I liken this to humanity balancing itself to ensure it has a future on this planet. Under patriarchy, women everywhere have suffered so much, for so long, that injustices are calling out to be redressed. Genius is eager to be unleashed. Different ways of organizing society are ready to come to the fore. Human beings as a species cannot thrive while forcefully suppressing more than half of its population. In facing the necessary challenge of bringing about equality for women, may we all reach a higher, healing level of awareness with which to view our world, and each other.”

Keisha-Gaye Anderson is a Jamaican-born poet and creative writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She is the author of the poetry collection Gathering the Waters (Jamii Publishing, December 2014), which was accepted into the Poets House Library. Her writing has been published in a number of national literary journals, literary magazines and anthologies, including Writing the Caribbean, Renaissance Noire, The Killens Review of Arts and Letters, Mosaic Literary Magazine, African Voices Magazine, Streetnotes: Cross Cultural Poetics, Caribbean in Transit Arts Journal, The Mom Egg Review and othersShe is a past participant of the VONA Voices and Callaloo Creative Writing workshops, and was named a fellow by the North Country Institute for Writers of Color. Keisha has also been short listed for the Small Axe Literary Competition. She is a founding poet with Poets for Ayiti. Proceeds from their 2010 chapbook, For the Crowns of Your Heads, helped to rebuild Bibliotheque du Soleil, a library razed during the earthquake in Haiti. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The City College, CUNY and regularly leads writing workshops on CUNY campuses. Learn more about Keisha at www.keishagaye.com or at facebook.com/keishagayeanderson. Follow her on Twitter @KeishaGaye1 and Instragram @keishagayeanderson.

You can listen to some of her poems on Soundcloud

“Mask” – Keisha-Gaye Anderson

Celebrating all that is Positive about Being a Woman — Ann Farray

March 8 is celebrated globally as International Women’s Day (IWD). Originally organized by the Socialist Party of America, the celebrations first took place in February 1909 and were called International Working Women’s Day.  Big Drum Nation is commemorating the occasion by posting women’s reflections on the struggle for equality.
Every year the celebrations embrace a special theme reflecting the urgency of the moment. This year, proceeding from the World Economic Forum’s prediction that the gender gap is unlikely to close entirely until 2186, the theme addresses this unacceptable state of gender inequity as a human rights urgency. Big Drum Nation joins IWD in the campaign to #BeBoldForChange following up on last year’s Pledge for Parity Campaign. It is a quest for women and girls to achieve their ambitions, challenge conscious and unconscious gender bias, push for gender balanced leadership, value women’s equality, encourage inclusive flexible cultures, and for more gender inclusiveness.
We asked sister Ann Farray of Montreal  what International Women’s Day means to her. Here’s her response:

“International Women’s Day allows for the celebration of all that is positive about being women.  It is also a platform to “agitate” for more that is due us … and should have been ‘naturally’ afforded.  Through my experience, it is mainly those who have felt “left out” or “disenfranchised” who have to seek validation through the means of having a “special” day to commemorate and validate their rightful place in this life.   So I salute us women and girls… on the way to womanhood.  Have a happy celebration…”

Ann Farray is a survivor, community and humanity supporter. She lives in Montreal, Canada.


BAI BUREH’S PEOPLE COME HOME TO CARRIACOU: “FOR TRUE, TIME IS REALLY LONGER THAN ROPE”

[Part 1 or 2]

By Caldwell Taylor

Bai Bureh (1840-1908) was the fearless Temne fighter who led the 1898 war against British colonialism in Northern Sierra Leone, and, no joke, in the course of his fight he offered a one thousand pound reward for the capture of the British Governor of the territory! The offer was proclaimed in response to the Governor’s call for Bureh’s capture; this call came with a one hundred pound sterling bounty to anyone who provided information that led to the capture of the rebel leader. Bureh was finally taken and was exiled. The hero returned to his country in 1903, and he died in 1908.

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Photograph of Bai Bureh, National Hero Of Sierra Leone

Death does not kill the hero: Indeed immortality is the hero’s rich recompense.

The hero makes history; and history has curious ways of doing the hero’s bidding.

The hero is a messenger. The hero is the emblem of what the mass makes inevitable.

Historical inevitability sails to a historic meeting in Carriacou– a sun-parched island that

has made more history than it could knead.

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World Renowned Carriacou Artist Canute Caliste

Carriacou made Canute Caliste (1914-2005); May Fortune (1909-1973); Ferguson “Sugar” Adams (1891-1983); and also “Mas’ Fred” F.B. Paterson, plantation owner (Belvedere), legislator, and according to historian Gordon K. Lewis (1919-1991), an “avowed socialist.”

Governor David Alexander Paterson has strong and deep roots in Carriacou. David was the first African-American Governor of New York State. David’s father, Basil (1926-2014), was a widely-known New York labor lawyer and politician. Basil was the first African-American Secretary of State of New York, and the first -African American Vice-Chair of the National Democratic Party. Basil’s father came from Carriacou, to New York back in 1917.

The name “Carriacou” cradles the memory of a martyred people, the so-called Caribs.

Carriacou is Kayryouacou, the Carib-named “island of many reefs.”carriacou_cmpsd_20

Over in Grenada, the Caribs fought to preserve their independence. This fight continued to a precipice where the Caribs were slaughtered at the hands of the French. This slaughter was celebrated high above a bloody sea of Gallic shouts:

Sauteurs!

Sauteurs!

Heroes never die!

The Sauteurs massacre completed the first stage of the French occupation of La Grenade. French rule in Grenada began in second half of the seventeenth century and continued until 1763 when the Treaty of Paris awarded the island to the British.

The treaty treated Carriacou as a ward of Grenada.

Politically and constitutionally a part of Grenada, Carriacou was a part of the electoral district of St Patrick’s until the 1930s.

Culturally speaking, however, Carriacou was very different from the “Mainland”.

TRIBAL ALLEGIANCES IN CARRIACOU

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Carriacou runs on ethnic lines and many Carriacouans self-identify as members of one of the following African “nations”:

Arada (Rada), Banda, Chamba, Congo, Cromanti, Manding, Moko (Ibibio), Temne, Ibo (igbo).

Caldwell Taylor is a writer, cultural commentator and member of the Bigdrumnation collective. Taylor lives in Ajax, Ontario.