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Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee thanks Sir Hilary at US Capitol for leadership in the Caribbean

For Release Upon Receipt - June 21, 2019


On Wednesday, June 19, Sheila Jackson Lee, American Politician and Democratic Congresswoman for the US State of Texas, wasted no time at the beginning of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, in paying tribute to the Caribbean for its contribution. As leader of the process which brought the Reparations Bill to the floor of the Judiciary Committee, she expressed gratitude particularly to Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, historian, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission.

Congresswoman Jackson Lee was speaking at the Capitol in Washington on the commemoration of Juneteenth, which marks a day of remembering the end of slavery in Texas. Her language was emphatic while thanking Sir Hilary for his expert leadership in the Caribbean and global movement over the past decade. By connecting the historic, Rastafarian-driven grassroots movement to State leadership, and securing the support of CARICOM leaders and international development and civil rights bodies, Sir Hilary was thanked for inspiring the revival of the African-American movement at the highest levels of Government. It was fitting that he was urged to stand before the Subcommittee under the chairmanship of Congressman Nadler, as the significance of the moment was officially acknowledged. During the hearing, iconic actor, Danny Glover, also expressed in his testimony, gratitude to Sir Hilary, his friend, for facilitating his own global activist engagement in the reparations movement. 


Congresswoman Jackson Lee later thanked Sir Hilary again at a town hall meeting which followed the Subcommittee hearing, where he was the keynote speaker. She acknowledged her gratitude to him for framing the conversation within CARICOM in a way that is developmental and not divisive. She further recognised the role that Caribbean luminaries have always played in the progressive politics of America—from the pan-African role of Marcus Garvey, to the reparations discourse of Sir Hilary himself. US Democrat, representing New Jersey, Senator Cory Booker also gave testimony at the hearing and was first to do so. Sir Hilary—standing in the Chamber, symbolically under the portrait of former Congressman John Conyers, his long serving mentor and father of the congressional movement—assured Senator Booker that the CARICOM Reparations Commission will be fully available to assist sponsors of the Bill as it is piloted through the House to the Senate.   



Related News: Sir Hilary goes to Congress

About Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, an Economic Historian, was installed as the 8th Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) on May 30, 2015. Before assuming the office of Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Sir Hilary was Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University’s Cave Hill Campus in Barbados for 13 years (2002-2015). Sir Hilary is a distinguished university administrator, and transformational leader in higher education. For his complete biography, visit: 

About The UWI

For the past 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and four campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Asia, and Africa such as the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development, the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. Times Higher Education has ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018, and was the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)