On the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Black Power Revolution, several afro Trinidadian groups remembered the day by revisiting buildings in the capital where protesters back then gathered.
“Just imagine before 1970 I couldn’t walk in that bank, “one actress said during a skit as she pointed at Royal Bank of Canada on Independence Square Port-of-Spain.
One such building was the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port-of-Spain.
“Someone said, ‘Into the church’,” former 1970 protester Khafra Kambon said.
Kambon said after police threw protesters out of the bank people were upset and that was when the protest took a different form and they entered places such as Montano’s and the Cathedral.
“One thing about 1970 the demonstration was very disciplined, “I want to say this for the record, the statues were not painted,” he said.
“The way they got them to represent us was by draping black flags,” Kambon continued.
Fast forward to five decades later and groups that support the black power movement and some members who were present in 1970 entered the church again on Wednesday which was also the beginning of Lent.
During a commemorative service to celebrate both events the Archbishop of Port-of-Spain during his homily praised those who entered the church to demand equality back in 1970. But he said was time to do more than just celebrate the anniversary.
Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon said while T&T has come a long way with dealing with racial equality there are still predominantly black communities in this country that are given no attention.
“We as a nation have ignored the economic development of our black people in this country,” he said.
“The development of the pockets of poverty in T&T happen to be African underdevelopment,” he continued.
The Archbishop said the recipe to fix the inequalities black people face in this country the education system must be fixed. He said those in depressed areas must be given all the tools necessary to succeed.
“We have to start with the parents,” he said.
“We have take the whole community and ask the whole community to dream that the little children will grow up to be productive citizens, “he continued.
Veteran broadcaster Josanne Leonard at Woodford Square where the groups eventually settled said T&T has become a nation where young black people are instantly classed as criminals. She recounted her experience on Ariapita Avenue on Carnival Tuesday where, as young black men walked the street, some people said, “hide your phone, hide your bag.”
Servant leader of NJAC Kwasi Mutema agreed with the Archbishop and said as a nation T&T need to re-examine 1970 with new lens.
“There are many problems that were there 50-years ago that are still alive today,” he said.
Mutema said it’s time for open discussion to avoid missing the mark and unite one voice, vision and aim moving forward.