The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) says Barbados must move to the next stage of freedoms – economic empowerment and enfranchisement, and inclusivity – as we continue to celebrate Emancipation.
In a statement on the occasion of the annual Emancipation Day walk, president Dr Ronnie Yearwood said “we all must now own these fields and hills in real ways”.
And the DLP is committed to political ownership of the country after freedom of Independence.
“We cannot enjoy the fullness of Emancipation when up to a third of our people live in poverty; thousands do not work to contribute to their families or communities; youth cannot find opportunities for jobs or houses; or people struggle to feed their families; that our country is in the top ten most expensive places in the world to live; and that people feel unsafe in their communities,” Yearwood noted.
The full statement follows:
As we celebrate Emancipation Day, let us recall that emancipation as a legal act did not guarantee our freedoms.
It was through the 1937 riots, fight, grit, and struggle that the freedoms we have were guaranteed, reaching a high point at Independence.
The two historical moments of Emancipation and Independence are deeply intertwined, though separated by more than a hundred years of history and generations.
The reality is that the cheque of Emancipation in 1838 was made good some 128 years later at Independence by Errol Barrow and the Democratic Labour Party. Our modern Barbadian political and development history owes a debt to Barrow and to the Democratic Labour Party.
Often, in these moments, we gloss over the facts, trying to cover all history in glory.
Statements such as Barrow “turned Barbados from a collection of villages into a Nation”, and I would add, an emancipated Nation, have real meaning in history and fact.
We have to recognise the effort to take the masses of Barbadians from poverty to prosperity in real terms, some 128 years after Emancipation.
In Barrow’s famous “No Loitering on Colonial Premises” speech, he, in no uncertain terms, told the British that their “Colonial system was designed not to promote free institutions, but to safeguard imperial interests”.
Eminent historian Professor Hilbourne Watson reminds us that Barrow was “self-confident and did not cower in the face of the racism and other obstacles presented by white capitalist forces that dominated Barbadian society… [he had a] resolve to speak unreservedly where [Grantley] Adams and many others would defer”.
The fight to make good on Emancipation was real and hard. It continues today. Emancipation in 2023 must be a time Barbadians seek to change the trajectory of their country.
The next freedoms must be economic empowerment and enfranchisement, and inclusivity. Simply, we all must now own these fields and hills in real ways.
That is what the Democratic Labour Party commits itself to, after the freedom of Independence and political ownership of the country.
We cannot enjoy the fullness of Emancipation when up to a third of our people live in poverty; thousands do not work to contribute to their families or communities; youth cannot find opportunities for jobs or houses; or people struggle to feed their families; that our country is in the top ten most expensive places in the world to live; and that people feel unsafe in their communities.
We all know and feel that Barbados is at a crossroads. We can all be like Barrow and find our confidence and not cower in the face of challenges or we defer.
We know what we must do. If we live true to ourselves, we know we must rise to the challenges around us and make good on Emancipation as Barrow did at Independence, because 128 years later when we were supposed to have been emancipated, we realised no one would give us anything.
We now have to own these fields and hills and be ready to fight for our economic freedom as we did political freedom at Independence. No one will give it to us, but ourselves.
We also recognize that an emancipated Barbados will mean political and economic freedom, everyday dignity, thriving communities, working facilities, and a prosperous and meaningful life.
Have a blessed Emancipation Day. (PR/SAT)