Heroes and heroines of the 1937 riots in Barbados were today honoured in a flower laying ceremony in Golden Square, Bridgetown, as part of the Clement Payne Movement led observance of the Day of National Significance.
In his tribute, Minster of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley said that the morning’s reflection was one which evoked mixed feelings.
“We remember with sadness the loss of life resulting from the unrest, those who were punished for agitating for their rights. But deep down there is a sense of triumph when we examine the gains made because groups of brave Barbadians took to the street and loudly said that ordinary Barbadians deserved better.
“Central to that victory was Clement Payne. He caused the masses to think and instilled in them the spirit to fight for justice. But that has earned him the right to be named one of Barbados’ National Heroes and the dignity of being remembered as the Right Excellent Clement Payne.
“Barbadians must always remember that the Right Excellent Clement Payne espoused a philosophy of non-violence — I believe it’s critical to reflect on his words, ‘Agitate but do not violate’,” Lashley stated.
Leader of the Peoples Empowerment Party David Commissiong said the present generation can be taught a lot of lessons from what occurred in the time of the riots.
“I would like to appeal to all of the national institutions of Barbados that we need to take these commemorations very seriously. If we are serious about being a nation, as people we have to be serious about commemorating these shining points in our history when the best of who we are as a people came to the fore. That is what these people represent, they represent the best of who and what we are and it would do us well to reflect on that period and to draw on the lessons from it,” he said.
Opposition Leader and political of the Barbados Labour Party, Mia Mottley in her tributes told those present that one of the most important aspects of a democracy is trust between the governed and the government.
“One of the most important actions in a democracy is the ability to listen and we listened and we recognised that this country could not move to the next stage of what was before us. The movement to continue our emancipation and to continue our enfranchisement without an acknowledgment of what had got us safely thus far,” she stated. (MR)