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Our historical record is priceless; let’s be proud and build on it

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Editor: The month of February is known as Black History Month in Canada and the United States of America.

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson initiated Negro History Week, the forerunner to Black History Month. “The goal of Black History Week was to educate the American people about African-Americans’ cultural backgrounds and reputable achievements.” (Kwakiuti).{{more}} The annual monthly celebration commenced in 1976. As Vincentians, may I recommend that we recognize the value of us mirroring this noble idea?

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, through one of its native sons, Captain Hugh Mulzac, is in high esteem of Black History celebrations in the United States of America. During a previous Black History Month presentation, I proudly unveiled the facts to my adopted community of the achievements of my compatriot, Captain Hugh Mulzac. The audience, after listening attentively to my discourse, sought clarification as to his true identity, culture and geography of the country of his birth. The fact being that many thought he was from a small town in the landscape of the United States of America. Seizing this golden opportunity, I corrected their misinformation and happily described the most beautiful country of God’s creation to my listeners, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Reminiscing, it dawned on me that the historical facts pertaining to a world-renowned Vincentian were acquired long after my years of formal education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Captain Hugh Mulzac is only one of the many sons and daughters of the soil that have made valuable contributions, which could be lost forever, if a radical change of the educational system is not made sooner rather than later. It is of paramount importance that emphasis be shifted to include studies emphasizing gains and accomplishments of stalwarts in our past history. One of my favourite authors eloquently states “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget ….our past history.” (White). Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States of America, said, “A nation which does not know what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, or what it is trying to do.”(Wilson).

Please permit the mention of the name of Basil Balcombe as one deserving historical mention and recognition. Many may only hear of him as a rich plantation owner with many children, owning Colonarie, San Souci, Mt. Bentinct and Grand Sable estates, none of which was inherited. Listening to Mr. Balcombe present his story had my undivided attention and has been etched into my memory ever since. His humble beginnings are worthy of note. His first job of digging arrowroot by the basket for a meagre pay is courageous. His task as a beloved bus conductor on the country route was interesting. Using his savings that came from his salary and tips to purchase the same bus from his boss is inspirational. Being bluntly refused the opportunity to purchase Grand Sable estate, because of other reasons than finance, is inexcusable and disgusting. He is really a rags-to-riches story. This historical fact taught to the young generation will, among other things, reinforce the benefits and rewards for hard work.

This Black History Month of reflection should inculcate in our youth the joy and blessings that hard work does bring, with lasting success. Let’s support the notion that a society that recognizes the accomplishments of its people, especially from the poor and displaced in our communities, is also worthy of high praise and commendation. Vincentians, especially our youths, must be aware that the alternatives to hard work are detrimental and the consequences are grave. Our historical record is priceless; let’s be proud and build on it.

B. Louis Daisley. NY, USA.