AN INTERNATIONAL Conference to mark the 50th anniversary of what has become known as the “Black Power Revolution” in Trinidad and Tobago will be held at the St. Augustine campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI) on Thursday and Friday of this week, April 20-21. It will be held at the Daaga Auditorium on the campus, named in honour of one of the leaders of that historic event, Makandaal Daaga, then known as Geddes Granger.
Daaga was the leader of one of the organizations which spearheaded the 1970 events, the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC).That organization is teaming up with the UWI’s Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies and the office of the Principal, UWI to host the Conference.
The Quest for National Unity, one of the aims of the 1970 Revolution is the featured theme of the Conference. In a press release NJAC explained that “the Unity March held on March 12, 1970, is inscribed as a defining moment of the TT Revolution of 1970”. It called on the population of Trinidad and Tobago, “to use this historic memory to inspire their recommitment to a united and strong nation”.The Conference will also focus on what Professor Emeritus Dr. Brinsley Samaroo calls “the unfinished business of the revolution”.
Professor Samaroo is himself slated to be one of the main presenters, along with a number of NJAC activists and protagonists such as the late Daaga’s wife, Liseli Daaga, then NJAC Deputy Leader and long-standing Pan Africanist Khafra Kambon, and a leading trade Unionist of the times, Clive Nunez.
The Black Power Revolution in Trinidad and Tobago started with a number of demonstrations headed by NJAC in 1970 which attracted tens of thousands calling for an end to racism and racial division and progressive policies for social and economic justice. It led up to the historic Unity March mentioned above and a declaration by Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams of a State of Emergency under which leaders of the demonstrations were jailed. This in turn sparked an army revolt in April by progressive army officers.