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Keble College unveils portrait of Oxford Union’s first Afro-Caribbean president


Keble College unveils portrait of Oxford Union’s first Afro-Caribbean president

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Keble College unveiled a new oil portrait in its Dining Hall honouring its alumnus Sir James Cameron Tudor, who in 1942 was the first person of Caribbean descent to be elected President of the Oxford Union.

Sir James subsequently became one of the Caribbean’s most influential diplomats and politicians. He was a founding member the Democratic Labour Party of Barbados, which led the country to independence in 1966. He served as Deputy Prime Minister, Education Minister, High Commissioner to Britain, and Ambassador to the United Nations.

Born and educated in Barbados, Sir James came to Keble College in 1940 to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He was Treasurer of the Junior Common Room Committee in 1941 – 1942, Secretary in 1942 – 1943 and was elected, unopposed, as President for 1943 – 1944. During his tenure as President, he oversaw the JCR through a difficult time, during which the College was requisitioned for war purposes and the students were rehoused in other colleges.

Sir James Cameron Tudor was President of the Oxford Union in 1942 – 1943 where he was described as having ‘exercised in the Chamber a pleasant and astringent wit’.

The occasion for the unveiling of the portrait is St Mark’s Day, which is the day of John Keble’s birth in 1792, and also of the laying of the Keble Foundation Stone in 1868. The nearest Sunday in Term is an annual event on which the College celebrates its founders and benefactors.

Warden of Keble College, Sir Jonathan Phillips, said: “The College is very pleased that the achievements of such a distinguished individual are being recognised in this way. It signals the College’s wish to celebrate the diversity of its alumni and student body.”

The portrait is being unveiled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, Senator The Hon Maxine McClean. She said: “We are very proud of our former Deputy Prime Minister’s achievements during his time at Oxford. Sir James was a trailblazer who has left an important legacy. We are delighted that Keble College is recognising the contribution he made with this lasting memorial.”

Others in the Bajan delegation included High Commissioner Guy Hewitt, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Permanent Secretary Cecile Humphrey, Barbados High Commission Minister Euclid Goodman, and Dr Terry Tudor, relative of Sir James.

The portrait was painted by artist Anthony Oakshett, whose versatile work includes a painting of the Queen, commissioned by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in 2005. He was appointed Lead Artist by the House of Lords and commissioned by it to paint five large canvases depicting the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

In October 2016, the Prime Minister of Barbados, The Rt Hon Freundel Stuart QC MP, visited Keble as part of a series of events to celebrate Barbados’ 50th Anniversary of Independence. On that occasion, a ceremony was held that recognised the outstanding service of Sir James Cameron Tudor, who was his long-time colleague and friend. The Prime Minister was subsequently elected a Honorary Fellow of the College.

Sir James’ portrait joins that of the Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley, a student at Jesus College in 1914, whose portrait by the late Barrington Watson, hangs in Milner Hall, Rhodes House, at Oxford University. (PR)