TONY BEST: New book a must read
IT PROMISES to be a highly readable and fascinating book.
And when, not if, Bajans in the diaspora in the US led by Colin Mayers, Barbados’ Consul-General in Miami, and Evelyn Greaves,
a former Barbados diplomat in Canada, get their way, a compendium of the contributions of Barbadians to America’s prosperity and to their own birthplace’s development will become available. Just as important, the publication of the glossy book of biographies and photographs of Barbadians, some dating back 250 years will form part of the 50th anniversary celebrations marking Barbados’ independence.
“Barbadians have done so much in the US over the centuries but their achievements haven’t been fully recorded, whether it’s because of shyness or modesty or both,” said Mayers.
“They went out and are still going out doing great things for Barbados and for their adopted country without thinking of making their work known. So, we thought what better way to highlight their efforts than to publish a book which informs readers about what Bajans have done.
Greaves said: “It’s going to be a coffee table book that records how Bajans of all walks of life made a difference in communities in the US. We are not focusing simply on doctors, judges, scientists, engineers, attorneys, business executives and so on. We want to highlight many Bajans who led simple lives but in different ways helped to transform their communities.”
That explains why, for instance, public figures like the late Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to serve in the US Congress and who sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the 1970s; Eric Holder, until recently the US Attorney-General, Commander Ja Ja Marshall, son of two Barbadians who is now the captain of the U.S.S. Hopper, a billion dollar guided missile destroyer, Prince Hall, the 18th century founder of the first black Masonic Lodge in the US, and Sylvia Hinds-Radix, New York State Appeals Court jurist will be featured alongside plumbers, school teachers, mechanics, neighbourhood restaurateurs and other average citizens whose names don’t make the news.
The idea for such a book in the US can be traced to a first of its kind publication five years ago in Canada. Entitled “Some Barbadian-Canadians” it has been hailed by Bajans there and Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, as a fine literary work.
“It will undoubtedly inspire and foster fellowship in the community and strengthen the longstanding friendship between Canada and Barbados,” said Harper in a foreword in the book in 2010.
“The idea for the book in the US came from Greaves who as High Commissioner to Canada worked with many key members of the Barbadian community to produce the book brought the suggestion to me and we readily embraced it,” Mayers explained. “We have been drawing on Mr Greaves’ experience ever since.
“We have reached out to our Government’s officers in the US and to Barbadians and their organisations across the country to get their input,” added the consul-general. “It is a major undertaking and we hope Barbadians will provide us with biographies, photographs and other material for inclusion in the book. We have assembled a committee whose members live and work in different parts of the country and we are making considerable headway.”
The deadline for submission of material to the Consulate-General in Miami is December and the book is expected to by next June.
Tony Best is the NATION’S North American correspondent.