We at SEARCHLIGHT share the sense of collective shock and grief felt by our nation in learning of the passing of Brother Parnel ‘PR’ Campbell earlier this week. True, he had health problems for some time but he has soldiered on in the battle for life that we all end up losing, bouncing back and renewing his commitment to country and people as any patriot would. Thankfully he managed to utilize the periods of better health well and our country is all the better off because of it.
In his long and distinguished career Bro. PR rose to become Attorney General of our country while pursuing his legal career and became a legal luminary in his own right.
But above all he will best be remembered for his service to country and people. He first rose to prominence in what was called the ‘Black Power’ days, when as a leading member of the Forum group he helped to place the issues of black consciousness, the need to end colonial rule, national sovereignty and constitutional change on the national agenda.
For that the conservative forces locally vilified him and his colleagues, often stooping to downright lies and slander, some of which people still believe until today. Perhaps it helped to steel him for the vilification that he was later to face, first in his stint in government and later when he assumed the role of Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee, placing the matter of fundamental constitutional change before the electorate in the constitutional referendum of 2009.
The failure of the CRC and the Government to obtain approval for the proposed new constitution did not daunt him nor dim his commitment to a deepening of democracy in the country. His most famous and enduring landmark is the weekly educational programme on SVGTV, launched in April 1997 and which continued until his death, agonisingly short of its 1000th edition.
Entitled “The Law and You”, it became a household fixture not only educating citizens about various aspects of the law, including contentious issues of property rights and succession, but also speaking out on issues of national, regional and international concern. Campbell died on the eve of the momentous verdict of a US court in convicting a police officer for the blatant murder of a black man, George Floyd. There is no doubt that had he been alive, his programme next week would have touched on this subject. Is there any local lawyer willing to make the sacrifice to continue this wonderful public service?
Many have been the attributes of this outstanding son of this soil. The Spiritual Baptist movement, hounded since colonial days and denied respectability and legal recognition, will forever be grateful to him for the role he played in helping them gain recognition, becoming in the process a bona fide member of that denomination.
Our society will surely miss him but his legacy lives on. We salute this outstanding patriot.