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The Black Power Revolution 1970: A Retrospective


Selwyn Ryan , Taimoon Stewart (Editors)


The Black Power Revolution 1970 is the by-product of a conference which was held at the University of the West Indies on April 19, 20, and 21, 1990 to mark the twentieth anniversary of the event. In the early month of 1970, between February and April, thousands of people, mainly young black youth, marched up and down Trinidad and Tobago demanding that political, social and economic power should pass to the people. Shouts of "Power!" "Power to the People!" rent the air. There was also a great deal of unrest in the armed forces generally, and the Regiment in particular, which fed on what was taking place outside. On April 20, 1970, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago finally decided that the protest movement had gone beyond the marching stage, and was now threatening the fundamentals of the political, social and economic system. As urban and rural workers, led by Black Power militants, marshalled their forces for a general strike, revolution seemed imminent. The Government thereupon declared a State of Emergency to take effect at 6.00 a.m. on the following day. This action by the Government served to abort or perhaps postpone the threatening crisis.

This volume represents an attempt on the part of the Institute of Social and Economic Research to record the views and recollections of some of the persons who were actively involved in the vents of 1970 expressed at the Conference held on April 19,20 and 21 at The University of the West Indies to mark the 20th Anniversary of that event. It also includes contributions from those who were less directly involved but who in one way or another held views which were important for the record.

The social, political and economic developments which provide the backdrop against which the crisis of 1970 emerged were touched upon in one way or another by all the contributors, but they are dealt with in fuller detain in the presentations by Dr. Selwyn Ryan, Dr. James Millette and Roy Mitchell. Ryan sees the eruption of black consciousness in 1970 as being a continuation of the general struggle of Caribbean blacks in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries for fuller incorporation in the social, political and economic life of the region, a struggle which assumed greater urgency in the period after the second world war.

Contributors to this book provide an extremely valuable chronology of the events of 1970, and helps the reader to recall what happened when and where, and with what apparent consequences. Some indication is given as to the role played by the media as they responded to and recorded the unfolding events.




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