FROM THE ARCHIVES: 22 killed in 1937 riots – Morris
NOTED HISTORIAN Ambassador Robert “Bobby” Morris is maintaining that officials got it wrong when they listed only 14 people as losing their lives in the 1937 disturbances.
Stating that he is standing by his research, Morris, a former trade unionist, said he had found that no fewer than 22 people were killed during the volatile period in Barbados’ history.
“Fourteen was the first information put out by the public but remember 14 died when they did their report, with 47 wounded. But when I went back to the coroner’s office and the hospital, I found the names of the wounded ones who died,” he said.
“I put all the names in the newspaper then and I remember my colleague (David Comissiong) of the Clement Payne Movement commented on that.
“I speak under correction but I think my distinguished colleague, David Browne, also checked and foubnd out about some of those others who had died. David, I stand by our research that it was more than the 14 names that were given officially.”
The historian was speaking Thursday night at the third symposium hosted by the Labour Department and the Barbados Workers’ Union that focused on the life and work of National Heroes Sir Grantley Adams and Sir Hugh Springer.
Morris told those gathered at Solidarity House that he was convinced that Adams was “the catalyst and mastermind” of the riots,
but kept his involvement hidden because he would have been “destroyed” by the local aristocracy once there was proof.
Career on the line
“I think we can take the veil off [Sir] Grantley . . . I think he did what he had to do and that he was as much sacrificial with what he was doing, not with his life, but putting his career on the line,” he added.
Just back from a visit to the National Archives in London, political scientist Dr George Belle said documents released on the period that had been kept secret for as much as 50 years showed that certain information needs to be re-examined.
“You’re going to have to reassess that narrative. There are nuanced positions that are going to have to be developed in relation to the story that all of us have accepted,” said Belle, who noted that intelligence reports were being submitted monthly on the local leaders up to the 1950s.
The feature address on Sir Grantley and Sir Hugh was delivered by Queen’s Counsel Sir Richard Cheltenham.
He said both men made indelible contributions to Barbados, particularly Sir Grantley, who returned to Barbados in 1925 and never left until his death.
“He remained in Barbados and worked, except for the period when he went off to the Federal Government, but in Sir Hugh’s case, having come here in 1938, by 1947, nine years only of his working life, he had left us,” Sir Richard noted.
“When you go forward 50 years, when we are declared a First World country, you have to applaud and recognise and give thanks and appreciation for two men, who between them helped to lay the foundation on which our present reputation and prosperity is based.” (WILLCOMM)
*This article was first published on August 8, 2015.