Gilkes: Only one Sealy
Entertainment promoter, journalist, public relations official and former chairman of the National Cultural Foundation, Al Gilkes, yesterday rated late political activist Eric Sealy’s oratory skills as equal to those of civil rights icon Dr Martin Luther King and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Gilkes, who enjoyed a lengthy association with Sealy over three decades, fondly remembered him as contributing significantly to the political awareness of Barbadians and the development of boxing. Gilkes said there would never be another Eric Sealy.
He recalled that their association started in the early 1970s when as promoters in entertainment and boxing respectively, they, along with fellow promoter Mark Williams, mounted public platforms and pushed a case for greater Government support for entertainment.
“We were spending time and energy to make it possible for entertainment and boxing to survive but successive governments were providing infrastructure for other sports but nothing for entertainment or boxing.
“Around late 1972 early 1973, after begging for a purpose-built facility for our promotions and it falling on deaf ears, we mounted a platform to bring public awareness to our plight,” he said.
Gilkes noted that from speaking on matters related to entertainment, their agitation evolved into the People’s Pressure Group where they articulated the social concerns of the masses.
“If he had been born in the [United States] Eric would have been classed as an orator alongside the likes of Louis Farrakhan and Dr Martin Luther King. He could stand on a platform and speak for three hours non-stop and be as fresh at the end as when he first started,” Gilkes reminisced.
He said Sealy would later go on to form the People’s Pressure Movement and he continued with the People’s Pressure Group. They then joined forces with the People’s Democratic Movement, Gilkes added, and contested a few seats in the 1976 general elections as the People’s Political Alliance.
“We did not win any seats and that basically ended our political involvement as a group but he continued up until his recent illness,” Gilkes said, adding that Sealy’s political involvement dated back to the days of Sir Grantley Adams.
“He was brilliant beyond his very slim formal education. But he could quote from Shakespeare and Milton as easily as he could from the Bible. He had a wide base of knowledge and when he spoke on the platform he spoke with authority based on that vast knowledge. He had a tremendous memory and an uncanny ability on the microphone,” Gilkes stated.
Sealy, 85, died Tuesday night at the Geriatric Hospital, Beckles Road, St Michael.