Academic journal article The Journal of Caribbean History

The PPM and the Black Star Newspaper in Barbados: Their Ideology and Official Reaction to It

Academic journal article The Journal of Caribbean History

The PPM and the Black Star Newspaper in Barbados: Their Ideology and Official Reaction to It

Article excerpt

The PPM /Black Star Newspaper

The 1960s was a period of great excitement, optimism and revolutionary fervour throughout global Africa and the Third World. The decolonization process was well on the way in Africa and the Caribbean, and the human rights struggle in the United States had evolved into the Black Power Movement. Throughout global Africa there were demands for Black Power and many territories witnessed the advent of Black Power movements. In Barbados, the People's Progressive Movement (PPM) - a Marxist political party that was formed in 1965 along with its organ the Black Star newspaper - was in the vanguard of the distillation of ideas of black consciousness and Black Power. The PPM's leadership was made up of Glenroy Straughn (Chairman), Calvin Alleyne (General Secretary), John Connell (Public Relations Officer), Bobby Clarke, Ossie Redman, Tyrone Evelyn, Henderson Adams, Leroy Harewood and Verona Harewood. Leroy Harewood was the editor of the Black Star newspaper; while his wife Verona Harewood was the manager of Black Star Publications Book Shop and the printer technician of the Black Star newspaper. Although the PPM claimed to be a Marxist political party, the leadership of the party utilized a class and race analysis to explain the oppression of the masses of Barbadians. Therefore, the paper advocated a form of black radicalism or revolutionary Pan-Africanism. By calling its organ the Black Star, they demonstrated that the race question would loom large in the discourse of the PPM.

It is important to note that the name Black Star is of great significance to Pan-Africanism/Black Nationalism. Marcus Garvey's historic shipping line was called the Black Star Line. Also, Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana was called the Black Star because she led sub-Sahara Africa to independence and the African continent on the path of African unification. The primary objective of the Black Star newspaper was "to enlighten the masses of Barbados and the wider Caribbean".1

The Black Star was published fortnightly from November 1967 to June 1969, and within that period about three hundred copies were published every fortnight. In the words of Kofi Akobi, one of the leading Black Power figures in Barbados, "the Black Star brought a new awareness and new consciousness to the Barbadian landscape."2 The PPM /Black Star informed its readers about the social, political and economic issues affecting Barbados, the Caribbean, Africa and North America. As the organ of a Marxist party, the paper sought to address issues of socialism, underdevelopment, neo-colonialism, true human rights, and imperialism. The paper also carried numerous articles that looked at African history and culture; African liberation struggles, struggles in the Third World and Caribbean integration.

African History and Culture

In a five-part series in the Black Star, Harewood sought to answer the following salient questions: i) Who are black people? ii) Where did black people come from? and iii) Where are black people going? In seeking to answer these questions, Harewood stated that "we are Africans that were taken from Africa by European marauders to work as slaves on the sugar plantations." He asserted that the African people had a great culture and had constructed arguably the world's greatest civilization. Harewood recognized that globally people of African descent are made to feel inferior and are relegated to second-class citizens. This was done by the constant bombardment of European culture, European institutions and European achievements in the media. He argued that black people have been forced by either physical brutality or psychological brutality to conform to European culture. It was quite noticeable that the "European has an inflated and distorted view of his own importance". Indeed, Europe and North America are made to look like the cradles of human civilization, while Africa and Asia are considered the land of the backward races.3

What distressed Harewood was the fact that millions of black people have accepted this falsehood. …

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