Barbadian parliamentarian, Trevor Prescod, joined British Member of Parliament (MP), Dr. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, to discuss ongoing work to address reparations justice and the restoration of the Drax Hall Estate to the people of Barbados.
The virtual meeting also included a representative from the Barbadian legal fraternity – Andrew Pilgrim, representatives from The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Stand Up to Racism Dorset, and the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration.
As a politician, Member of Parliament for St. Michael East and Pan Africanist, Prescod told the participants that a task force was established and he expressed his appreciation to be a part of the movement and the Caribbean-UK linkage formed through the Stand Up to Racism Dorset organisation. He also underscored the participation of the Barbadian trade union, which is represented on the local task force and other members of the legal fraternity notably by David Comissiong and Lalu Hanuman.
Resolution for trade union coming this year
General Secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, David Denny, announced he is planning to prepare a resolution for the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) for the annual conference this year. He explained that the trade union movement within the public sector trade union can also participate in the process.
Dr. Ribeiro-Addy, who has a relationship with Barbados and Ghanaian roots, noted that the issue of reparations is close to her heart. She highlighted that her country cannot move forward without looking at the past. Dr. Ribeiro-Addy noted it will continue to influence decisions about immigration and trade and the situation has to change. In her remarks, she pointed out that throughout history various countries had paid reparations to other countries and people, including slave owners and it should not be unusual for the ancestors of the African enslaved people in the UK and the Caribbean to receive them.
“I really do hope that we in the UK at some point have a government that is willing to take on these issues,” said Dr. Ribeiro-Addy.
In the United Kingdom, the Bridport Town Council, Dorset Equality Group, Dorset Trades Union Council, Unite the Union (West Dorset Community Branch), and Women’s Action Network Dorset all signed the open letter to British MP Richard Drax calling for the restoration of Drax Hall Estate to the people of Barbados.
According to a media statement submitted to The Barbados Advocate from the Stand Up to Racism Dorset, “The elected council in Bridport, a historic town in West Dorset, this week unanimously passed a resolution calling on Richard Drax ‘to acknowledge, and apologise for, the historical role of his family in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and to enter into a constructive discussion with the CARICOM Reparations Committee on the subject of reparation’.”
Councillor Rose Allwork, who proposed the resolution, said she hopes Mr. Drax will take this opportunity to show moral leadership by gifting the estate to the people of Barbados. She added that this was important to the communities still living with the legacy of slavery as they might begin to find some of the closure that Sir Hilary Beckles calls for.