The Grenada Revolution Online

What Was the NJM?

New Jewel Movement Demonstration
Photo, The Resource Center

Call out the instigators
Because there's something in the air
We've got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution's here . . .

Thunderclap Newman, 1969 UK Number One hit


Before the NJM was formed, many factors were the ingredients from which the New Jewel movement grew; not the least of which was the regime of former Prime Minister Eric Gairy. Intellectual agitation seemed to be in the air. Countries were seeking independence and national liberation. Anti-colonial spirits ran high. Mali's Modibe Keita, Ghana's Nkrumah, and Patrice Lumumba are names to recall. It was Integration Time, Black Power Time and Black Nationalism Time. A profound influence was the Cuban revolution in 1959 with speeches and writings of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. It was a exhilarating time. It was a time of extremes - the uplift of hope and the despair of the rock bottom. Young people of unique common traits, black and white, were on the move.


The Origins
of the New Jewel Movement

THE BLACK POWER MOVEMENT - 1960s

The concept of Black Power quickly filled the political minds of young left-leaning Grenadians . . . the personalities . . . the books published . . . the culture, especially the energy of music. Many of the symbols and doctrines of the Black Power movement were drawn from Jamaican Rastafari.

It is not forgotten that the base reasons that led to the emergence of Black Power politics was poverty, remnants of colonialism, unequal access to power, and low status, especially for people of color. In the Caribbean, according to Tafari, the difference, "between the suppressed indigenous Indian and African grassroots sub-cultures and the dominant Eurocentric culture embodied by the force of neo-colonialism" formed the basic contradiction.

In the 1960s 'Power to the People' was an African National Congress (ANC) rallying cry. Motown Records had its first #1 hit, "Please Mr. Postman," by the Marvellettes. Bob Marley started his career. Martha & The Vandellas' "Heat Wave" was released. W.E.B. Du Bois was eulogized by Martin Luther King on 28 August 1963, as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom began. Cassius Clay (soon to be Muhammad Ali) knocked out heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Afro hairstyles, dashikis—remember those sandals made of tires and wide, wide bell bottom pants?

Frantz Fanon's books began to be published in the middle of the 1960s. Amicar Cabral, in 1962, began leadership of a people's struggle against forces of both Portuguese Guinea and Cape Verde. Not to forget the powerful Gillo Pontecorvo-directed film "Battle of Algiers", in 1965 and the Costa-Gavras film "Z", in 1969. Extending to 1973 saw a second Costa-Gavras film "State of Siege" where 'revolutionary activities' were shown through tales of the Tupamaro guerillas in early 1970s Uruguay.

In 1964 Stokely Carmichael graduated from Howard University. Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City on 21 February 1965. In 1966, Stokely Carmichael, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC], and Willie Ricks [now Mukasa], also an organizer for SNCC, called for 'Black Power' while working in Mississippi. That same year Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale co-founded the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California.

Trinidadian-born Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton were published October, 1967. Their book was titled "Black Power."

"It [Black Power] is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to begin to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations and to support those organization. It is a call to reject the racist institutions and values of this society."

The year 1968 was an eventful year. Julius Nyerere's "Ujamaa: Essays on Socialism" was first published by Oxford University Press. In Tunapuna, Trinidad, Lloyd Best's home host TAPIA House was the headquarters of the intellectual element of the Black Power Movement. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Tommy Smith and John Carlos extended black-gloved fists and stare downward during the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Olympics in a gesture symbolizing black unity and power. James Brown released "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud."

Soon the "Black Powers" as some were called in the Westindies, began to be perceived as dangerous. In some institutions, the wearing of an Afro was fraught with ominous symbolism. The emerging culture, on the distaff side, began to adopt, according to Dominican attorney, writer and historian Gabriel J. Christian,

the language of scorn and resistance, with regard to the status quo and its denigration of things black. There was a certain fearlessness which stalked the discourse of the young . . .

Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver published his essay collection "Soul On Ice." Black Panther national treasurer Bobby Hutton, 17, was killed by Oakland police. H. Rap Brown of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee disavowed nonviolence and joined the Black Panther Party. By this time dashikis, afro hairstyles and charismatic oratory were the order of the day. This was the time of Che. This was a time of cultural confrontation.

On 15 October 1968, Hugh Shearer's Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) declared Walter Rodney, Guyanese lecturer on African history at the University of the West Indies (UWI) campus there, persona nongrata. Rodney was banned from re-entering Jamaica after attending the Congress of Black Writers in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. News of this spread throughout the Westindies.

In Jamaica, the newspaper Abeng, published from 1 February 1969 through its dissolution in the following September, was a primary outlet for Black Power thought. By that time a culture of Dread had become widespread, revealing itself most prominently in reggae music.

The Carifta Expo and the crowning of Miss World, Grenadian Jennifer Hosten, marked the year of 1969. Many Grenadians returned from Trinidad that year and Eric Gairy was one of the judges for the Miss World contest.

Dr. Ikael Tafari premises the February Movement:

"The original stimulus to the February [1970] Revolution [in Trinidad] came from the arbitrary jailing in 1969 of a number of black West Indian students following a computer-smashing incident at the Sir George Williams University in Canada. This in turn was the climax of disturbances there that had accompanied the students' accusations of racial discrimination which they leveled at a white member of the University staff."

The late Rosie Douglas, born in Dominica, was then a university student in Canada, part of the protest at Sir George Williams University. Douglas returned to Dominica 1 May 1976.

On 30 August 1976, the last day of the Notting Hill Carnival in the United Kingdom ended in a riot. Junior 'Soul' Murvin's high falsetto voice set a background with his "Police & Thieves". Events in the UK, marked each year since 1964 for the Caribbean community in the Notting Hill Carnival, paralleled the movement towards revolution in the United States. Music and the youth movement encased in Black Power concepts crossed over the waters and back. The part that Reggae and Natty Dread music played in the formation of the lives of Grenadian revolutionaries [and other revolutionaries] is massive, and too big to take on here.

In 1970, the FBI put Angela Davis on its most-wanted list; after two months of hiding, she was arrested on charges of kidnapping, conspiracy, and murder. She was acquitted of all charges in 1972. She was a guest of the Revolution in Grenada in the 1980s, notedly March and August/Carnival of 1982.

THE FEBRUARY MOVEMENT IN TRINIDAD - 1970s

During Trinidad Carnival, groups of young people carried large photographs of American Black Power leader Stokely Carmichael, Mao Tse-tung, and Malcolm X. With roots purportedly based in the violent Black Power struggles in the United States, Trinidad in 1970 was a nation of crippling strikes, a partial mutiny of the military and a movement which posed a serious threat to the leadership of Sir Eric Williams. In February 1970, Bishop returned from his studies and work in the UK. He is said to have passed through Trinidad during the time of the February Movement.

Black Power leader Geddes Granger, union leader Joe Young, and George Weekes, the head of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU), led 200 or more radical students from the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Trinidad. They were joined by grassroots supporters under the banner of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC).

Between February 26 and April 21, people took to the streets daily in ever-increasing numbers. At one point they formed their own People's Parliament, an action they would be mirrored by members of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) in Grenada. There is a story that Stokely Carmichael was to visit Trinidad. Eric Williams' government warned the airlines against allowing Carmichael anywhere near the airport.

A number of Grenadians were arrested and detained during this Trinidadian Black Power movement. In Grenada, Bishop organized a solidarity protest demonstration of about 200 persons on 10 May 1970 in support of the "brothermen" in Trinidad. Subsequently, around 21 May 1970, then Prime Minister Eric Gairy instituted an Emergency Powers Act and the special squadron known as the Mongoose Gang was formed.

The date was 23 May 1970 when former Prime Minister Eric Gairy broadcast his 'house on fire' speech on Grenadian radio, explaining that he had brought Black Power to Grenada in 1951. When he tried to make his experience an equivalent of the 1960s Black Power Movement, Gairy was on the mark in many ways, but he did not acknowledge the agenda of the Black Power Movement even though he greatly feared it.

THE FREE SCHOOL MOVEMENT AND THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT AND THE RELAXATION OF RELIGIONS

The idea of community free school movement meant all those teachers, adults, and children who were involved in discovering new ways of becoming educated. The movement had its start in the early 1970s in Canada (Toronto and British Columbia), and within the United States through the writings of John Holt and Jonathan Kozol. The alternative/new/free schools were experiments in education which brought forth many ideas used later by the Grenadian and Internationalists educators during the People's Revolutionary Government. Educator Paolo Freire was brought in for consultations

Parallel to the free school movement was a consciousness of women's rights. The international women's movement of the 1960's and the 1970s influenced women throughout the Caribbean. Stylistically, it became prevalent for women to wear pants. Hair-straightening was out of fashion. One organizing women's unit was the Women and Development Unit (WAND) of the University of the West Indies in Barbados. Perhaps Phyllis Coard of Jamaica attended the 1977 regional conference in her country out of which WAND emerged. The concerns of women were pushed front and center by the leading female leaders of the NJM and PRG.

In the Roman Catholic Church the Latin Mass was dropped. Music began to resound from the alter; drum beats entered the service; guitars provided the background to Church weddings.

The early 1970s was the time of Maurice Bishop and the New JEWEL Movement, of Yulimo in St. Vincent, of the Antigua Caribbean Labour Movement, of the Movement for a New Dominica and for 'Black Power' in the Caribbean. The paragraphs following outline the evolution of the New JEWEL Movement and Maurice Bishop's return to Grenada from his studies in the UK in February/March of 1970.

NATIONAL ACTION FRONT [NAF]

In Grenada, the worldwide Black Power Movement had its effect not only on youth, but also on the Special Branch Department of the Royal Grenadian Police Force (RGPF). The Special Branch was monitoring the activities of Maurice Bishop from the time of his return to Grenada from England in the Spring of 1970 to the coup 13 March 1979. The Commissioner of Police went so far as to investigate a concept he called "emotional Trotskyism" and attribute it to Bishop. There was a Third World Bookshop on St. Johns Street in St. George's, a Society for the Promotion of Black Consciousness and the National Action Front, among other gatherings of youth, mostly from St. Paul's.

The National Action Front [NAF] was organized by Maurice Bishop shortly after his return to Grenada in February-March 1970 until October 1970. The group was mostly comprised of young people. There was a demonstration held by 50-60 members of the National Action Front in Grenada on Saturday, 12 September 1970. The purpose of the demonstration held in St. George's was "in protest against the unjust imprisonment and trial of Bro. Frederick Kennedy and Government's inaction on the whole matter". There was also a meeting held at the Botanical Gardens, then adjacent to the Premiers' Ministry where the main speakers were Morris Bishop, Sister Oluonye and Wilfred Layne. Check here for the Speech delivered by Bishop at the National Action Front Open Meeting 12 September 1970.

Among the demonstrators were "Morris Bishop" [as he was then known to authorities], Maurice Patterson (sic), Ian Francis, Dennis Campbell, Raphael Sylvester, Sister Oluonye, Wilfred Layne, Lester De Souza, Lincoln Charles and Walter Thomas.

FORUM

FORUM in Grenada, circa June-December 1970, was established by Unison Whiteman and Ian A. Francis. FORUM groups were set up in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada following the Rat Island Black Power Conference of that year held on Rat Island off St. Lucia. Many Black Power Conferences were held during the 1960s and more frequently in the early 1970s.

FORUM was a black nationalist discussion group. Bishop led FORUM from discussion to political activism by organizing political marches to protest the corruption of Gairy's government. FORUM distributed a weekly newspaper of the same name. The journal included a weekly series on Marxism. Reports state that the FORUM discussion group evolved into MACE.

According to Sandford & Vigilante in "Untold Story," the [Grenada] Forum group was active during 1971 when " . . . the Forum worked with a similar fledgling group called Cribou to rally Grenadian support for an International Solidarity Day sponsored by the 'Pan-African Secretariat' in Guyana. The two groups were also active in a 'National Conference on the Rights of Black People' protesting racism in Great Britain."

THE CRIBOU MOVEMENT

The Cribou Movement was comprised mainly of young black people - students, the unemployed, tradesmen [carpenters, farmers]. The formed a Central Committee of about 5-10 people with 4 Area councils. Cribou's regular and irregular members approximated 150 persons. Cribou held three sessions called (Ujamaa) during which representatives from each area congregated to discuss progress in the respective area and other related topics. It is reported that was a definite ideological orientation among the central committee and area committee members. The central theme was "the liberation of all our peoples from the shackles of capitalism and Imperialism and the movement to some form of socialism. The group had to party or political connection. It published the irregular paper - "The Voice of the Cribou Movement" ---- JUSTICE. The movement was short-lived.

THE ST. ANDREW'S LIBERATION MOVEMENT

The St. Andrew's Liberation Movement was composed primarily of teachers and students, who were attached to various youth groups in the greater community. Not over-structured, the group had an organizing committee which coordinated and helped to establish a power base, though the group had no political attachment. One January public meeting attracted 1500 people. The group held exhibitions, music festival/s and regular meetings.

JOY/GAY/NYO - THE GRENADIAN STUDENT MOVEMENT

Youth work was always important in the movement. Maurice Bishop, at Presentation Brothers' College (PBC), and Bernard Coard at Grenada Boys Secondary School {GBSS}, formed a youth organization in 1962 designed to bridge differences between the two school. The group was called the Grenada Assembly of Youth After Truth, possibly aligned with the greater World Federation of Youth.

Joint Organization of Youth [JOY] was formed by students at Presentation Brothers College [PBC] between 1970 and 1973 to discuss developments in the Roman Catholic Church. The time was following the Second Vatican Countil of 1962-1965. These PBC students who came together in a room “underneath the Catholic Cathedral, a few yards down the hill from the College” for discussion were Basil ‘Akee’ Gahagan, Liam ‘Owusu’ James and Raymond Layne. According to O’Shaughnessy:

Before fading, JOY opened its councils to girls from St. Joseph’s and to boys from the Grenada Boys Secondary School [GBSS]. Perhaps with the name morphing from JOY to OREL, it is alleged that the Organization for Revolutionary Education and Liberation [OREL] has its start in the period of the early 1970s.

The roots of the OREL group are to be found, according to some Grenadians, in the classrooms of Presentation College and St. Joseph’s Convent, the bastions of Catholic boys’ and girls’ education in Grenada.

The brothers at Presentation College did their best to foster self-reliance among their pupils and the College was one of the first to introduce student councils where the boys were encouraged to take a share in planning the life of the scholastic community.

Others were the National Youth Council [NYC], Union of Secondary Students [USS], and Catholic Youth Congress [CYC]. These youth groups grew out of student associations at Presentation Brothers' College [PBC], Grenada Boys Secondary School [GBSS] and St. Joseph's Girls School which came together annually in the Grenada Assembly of Youth [GAY].

GAY, formed by George Louison in the early months of 1971, took particular interest in the secular implications of the reformist Second Vatican Council. In 1974, GAY, then headed by Basil Gahagan, joined with a smaller group, the National Youth Organisation (NYO). NYO youth aided the NEW JEWEL MOVEMENT with demonstrations, sporting events and had their own newspaper, called 'FIGHT.'

Before Movement for Assemblies of the People [MAP] there were other short-lived small groups; the Civil Liberties Association [CLA] and HOPE. The CLA met in various parishes with students and young radicals.

MARTINIQUE CONFERENCE, 11-15 February 1972
[possibly delayed to 31 March - 3 April 1972]

Maurice Bishop organized a gathering of Caribbean progressives and intellectuals to work together to formulate the guidelines for a new Caribbean society. The United States government holds a microfiche at the National Archives, part of the Grenada Documents, which states the four basic goals of the conference:

1. People's ownership of all Caribbean resources.
2. The destruction of the old class structure based on wealth, color, and family.
3. Equal distribution of all resources.
4. Equal access to education, health care, housing, etc.

MACE and MAP

Movement for the Advancement of Community Effort (MACE), sometimes known as the Grenada Action Front (G.A.F.), was believed to have been formed February 1972. MACE is described as comprising mainly teachers and middle class professionals. It has an organizing committee of about 7 persons. Prominent leaders of MACE were Maurice Bishop, Franklyn Harvey and Kenrick Radix. MACE/GAF had a stated goal of research on Grenadian social problems, followed by education about those problems.

A central mark of the focus of the MACE group was African Liberation Day. On 27 May 1972, MACE organized a demonstration in St. George's in alliance with world demonstrations that same day, according to Ron Daniels, with "35,000 Black people gathered in Washington, D.C. Another 15,000 rallied in the Bay Area, 5,000 in Toronto and hundreds in Grenada." An African Liberation Day celebration was also held in Antigua and Barbuda, under the sponsorship of the ACLM [African Caribbean Liberation Movement].


One African National Congress Graphic

MACE merged with the Committee of Concerned Citizens and became Movement of Assemblies of the People (MAP) October 1972 - March 1973, an openly political group with an urban intellectuality. Maurice Bishop, Unison Whiteman, Franklyn Harvey, Kenrick Radix, Jacqueline Creft, Kenneth Buckmire, Dennis Campbell, Francis Raphael Alexis, Vincent Noel and a few other professionals were the leaders of Movement for Assemblies of the People (MAP) from St. George's. Some called this group Master Assembly for the People.

MAP people were interested in the philosophy of Julius Nyerere, with a mass egalitarian social movement, and a Tanzanian-style of grassroots democracy with a strong sense of nationalism. Their interest in participatory democracy emerged, in part, from their understanding of the anti-authority beliefs of some organizations of the New Left in the United States. Consensus decision-making and participatory democracy was practiced in the 'egalitarian movements' of the early 60s in the United States, especially the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

MAP has been assessed as radical, befitting the character of the Left, but not Marxist.

The link provided is a paper written by Maurice Bishop titled On Strategy and Tactics; a document which expands on how to form a mass movement.

JEWEL

The Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education & Liberation (JEWEL) group and a political debate group emerged in March 1972, shortly after the General Elections of 1972 until March 1973, JEWEL was under the leadership of Teddy Victor, Esther Henry, Sebastian Thomas, Sherwin Lazarus and Unison Whiteman; based in St. David's parish. Its orientation was rural; its emphasis cooperative farming. JEWEL had a co-operative farm. A library was maintained at Requin. A weekly newspaper was published with Teddy Victor as editor. Whiteman had recently returned from studies in economics at Howard University in Washington, DC. The group found support among educators, agricultural workers and laborers.

NEW JEWEL

The New JEWEL Movement (NJM) was established 11 March 1973, following a 2-day conference in St. David's of JEWEL and MAP members. The initial team consisted of Maurice Bishop, Kenrick Radix, Keith Mitchell, Unison Whiteman, H.M. Bhola, Justin Vincent, Teddy Victor, George Brizan, Kenneth Buckmire, Sebastian Thomas, Hudson Austin and Selwyn Strachan, according to Cotman. Lloyd Noel and Harold Strachan are included in this group of activists by Marable. Bishop was an early New Jewel Movement (NJM) leader, along with Unison Whiteman; in fact, they both were called 'Joint Co-ordinating Secretaries.'

The document The ABC of NJM, a New Jewel publication, circa 1974 includes 13 pages of "Questions & Answers on NJM - Its History, Ideas, Principles." The United States Black Power Movement influence was powerful enough for early NJM gatherings to be led by "co-ordinating councils." The Bureau of the NJM met regularly. On a monthly trip from his location at UWI Trinidad, Bernard Coard would travel to Grenada to lecture to the group on Marxism. Afterwards, the group would be taught martial arts by Michael Derek Roberts.

The publication of the NJM Party, the New Jewel, was issued weekly. The publication was first edited by Teddy Victor, then Eslee Carberry; then Selwyn Strachan and reached a circulation figure in the 'tens of thousands'.

OREL

OREL's name became set as 'Organization for Revolutionary Education and Liberation.' OREL was founded in 1970 as an offshoot of the Black Power Movement in Grenada. The aim of the group was radical 'Marxist' revolution for Grenada. When the NJM was officially launched in 1973 members of OREL joined the party as individuals rather than as members of the OREL group.

OREL members produced a newspaper named "SPARK'. Below is the cover of the first issue of The Spark [TEXT at the link] from 2 February 1975, vol. 1, no. 1:

The Spark

JOY student members and students from the Grenada Boys Secondary School [GBSS] joined to form the Organisation for Revolutionary Education and Liberation (OREL). Members of OREL from both GBSS and PBS included Liam James, Basil Gahagan, Chris Stroude, John Ventour, Raymond Layne, Ewart Layne, Leon Cornwall, Keith Roberts and Victor 'Nazim' Burke, followed by Bernard Coard who returned to Grenada to live after September 1977.

MAURICE BISHOPS SUMS UP

On 19 August, 1977, Maurice Bishop [and Unison Whiteman] held an interview with Pedro Pablo Rodríguez. The interview was printed in the Cuban weekly Bohemia under the title "The Struggle for Democracy and Against Imperialism in Grenada." Quoting Bishop:

"In Grenada's case, the ideas of 'Black Power' that developed in the United States and the freedom struggle of the African peoples in such places as Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau powerfully contributed to providing an understanding that the problems of the Caribbean man were very different from those in the British mother country or the United States and Canada. But unquestionably, through the Cuban experience we got to see scientific socialism close up. this, together with the process that has taken place in recent years in Guyana and Jamaica, has been teaching us, on the practical level of day-t0-day political struggle, the relevance of socialism as the only solution to our problems."

"Our party began to develop along Marxist lines in 1974, when we began to study the theory of scientific socialism."


Check out Manifesto of the New Jewel Movement

Also check ABC's of NJM

Also check Why the Alliance is in Trouble

and Independence

and Gairy and the NJM


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