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‘Too little info’ on ’37 riots

rhondathompson, [email protected]

‘Too little info’ on ’37 riots

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THE DEARTH OF RECORDS relating to the 1937 riots and other historic events in Barbadian history was  pointed out recently by Professor Emeritus Sir Woodville Marshall.
Sir Woodville, chairman of the publication and programming committee and first vice-president of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society (BMHS),  was speaking Monday at the launch of the BMHS Annual Lecture Series entitled This The Time To Knock On The Door Of Your Government: The 1937 Labour Rebellion In Barbados.
 The lectures start next month and continue until mid-April at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed in Bridgetown.
The historian said:
“If you go to any of the histories of Barbados and you go to the section which supposedly describes the riots or disturbances . . . you will find about two paragraphs and if you look critically, those two paragraphs are taken more or less from the Dean Commission report.
“And this is supposedto be a central and iconic moment, and this is all that you have. There is a great gap in the record and that gap needs to be bridged,” he said.
Sir Woodville indicated that the topic was an important one as it was “supposedly” central to the Barbadian historic experience.
“I say supposedly because . . . while today and certainly for the last 20 years or so we have been tending it to be central, iconic even, you must recognize that at the time that was not how contemporaries saw it.  
“When we, therefore, talk about the iconic things, recognize that this is to some extent a younger generation looking back at the past.
“It certainly is  not what some contemporaries thought about what was happening,” Sir Woodville added.
The lectures will put the incidents into an international perspective, focusing on what was happening to the labour movement worldwide, the context in Barbados and the region.
Topics include Transforming A Frightful Orgy Of Hooliganism Into A National Day Of Significance and The Blackest Week In The Colony’s History.
The historian explained that most of the lectures in the series over the last nine years had provided valuable information on important aspects of Barbadian historical development that could not be found anywhere else or may have appeared only as articles in journals.
“So to a large extent you can see the lecture series as contributing important information on Barbadian history.
The publication of these lectures in whatever form will add to that store of information which, of course, needs expansion,” Sir Woodville said.
The lecture series, now in its tenth year, is a collaborative effort between the BMHS and the Department of History and Philosophy of the University of the West Indies. (LK)