T&T Black Power uprising forum

The factors that gave rise to the Black Power unrest in Trinidad and Tobago in 1970, which for months posed a serious threat to the country’s stability, will be examined in a panel discussion to be sponsored by the Trinidad & Tobago Folk Arts Institute, in conjunction with the School of Professional & Community Development of Medgar Evers College, Friday evening, Oct. 14 at the Medgar Evers campus in Brooklyn.

The panel discussion, which will be from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., is forerunner to a November screening of the documentary film, “70: Remembering a Revolution,” and is part of an ongoing collaboration of the Folk Arts Institute and the School of Professional & Community Development. It will be held in the Mary Pinkett Lecture Hall, Room S122 at 1637 Bedford Avenue (between Crown and Carroll Streets).

Among the scheduled panelists are Roger Toussaint, former president of the Transport Workers Union; former senior Trinidad and Tobago police officer Ranny Babb; and former of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment members Walt Collins and Kelvin Nurse. Other panelists are expected to be named.

Les Slater, chairman of the Folk Arts Institute, said: “We share the sentiments of the producers of ‘70: Remembering a Revolution,’ that there is need for a critical light to be shone on those extraordinary, game-changing developments of 1970. Having decided to screen the film, we felt we should also arrange, hopefully by eliciting several different perspectives, to bring about the kind of serious focus that this landmark chapter of Trinidadian history deserves.”

Protests by students, the unemployed, unionized workers and others morphed early in 1970 into a sustained period of unrest, which eventually caused the then Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams to declare a State of Emergency. The uprising, which was the biggest crisis faced by the Williams government, had triggered even greater cause for alarm when it extended to an attempted army mutiny, for which several individuals were subsequently brought to trial. Over the course of the Black Power revolt, several persons lost their lives and many, including protest leaders, political figures and union officials were arrested and detained.

The Oct. 14 panel discussion is the first of three forums that the Folk Arts Institute has scheduled for the fall semester at Medgar Evers College. Admission to it is free and open to the general public. Inquiries for further information can be made by phone at: 718-252-6161 or 718-804-8815.

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