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A man of principle

kerriesymmondsatparliamentAn “entire package of a man” who “showed his mettle” in many spheres. That’s how St. James Central MP Kerrie Symmonds described late former Barbados Labour Party parliamentarian Glenroy Straughn, a former resident of that constituency.

Symmonds, as he led tributes on behalf the BLP today in the House of Assembly, also noted that Straughn and his widow Ada together “have left an indelible impact on the minds of people from the parish of St. James and the constituency of St. James Central together”. “He was a man of immeasurable principle, and I think that that is, along with his selflessness and commitment to country, those are some of the characteristics … that best represent him and I think that will hold him in people’s memories for time immemorial,” he said.

The Opposition spokesman said the deceased social activist was “prepared to lend his voice up front” on a range of issues that touched the lives of working class Barbadians. “We have therefore an entire package of a man, a man who showed his mettle in the clean arena of political combat, a man who showed his mettle as a servant of the people outside of political combat, but in building communities, a man who showed his mettle in the area of sports development, in the area of educational development, in the area of our cultural development,” he noted.

“That is the measure of the quintessential Barbadian. He was a gift, Mr. Speaker, in my judgment, to the people of Barbados, he is one of the patriarchs of the St. James community, he will sorely be missed, his contribution has been deeply respected and will never be forgotten.”

Symmonds also pointed out that long before economic enfranchisement became modern buzz words, Straughn was a leading voice on such matters.

“The measure of the man is that he stood for consciousness and awareness of the struggle of the black working class in Barbados and was taken positions of principle in keeping with that struggle on behalf of dispossessed, oppressed and repressed and suppressed people in this country,” the BLP spokesman said.

He pointed out this was “at a time when it was personally difficult, if not dangerous, for an ordinary working class man himself to be speaking language of principle, but also coming across as language of defiance against what was then still a very … deeply entrenched white corporate ruling economic class in this country”.

“Beyond that he stood for the need for redistribution of resources and wealth in an equitable manner in Barbados, again another issue which bedevils this country,” Symmonds stated.

“What I think stands out about Glenroy Straughn … is that he took these positions of principle, Sir, in a manner which was also defiant of tokenism.

He was prepared to reject token changes, he stood for meaningful and fundamental change.” (SC)

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