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Dr Adrian Fraser highlights amazing history of SVG in new book

Dr Adrian Fraser highlights amazing  history of SVG in  new book


“We are not fully aware of our amazing history… We were in the forefront of many movements and developments throughout our history.”

This was the assertion of local historian Dr Adrian Fraser, as he spoke at the official launch of his book ‘The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage’ last Thursday, December 15.

The book, which was published by the West Indies Press (Jamaica) on October 21, 2016, recounts the events leading up to and following the 1935 riots.{{more}}

“When I was doing the riots, there was something unique and different about what was happening in St Vincent, but still when people speak about the riots in the Caribbean, the focus is on what happened in Jamaica and Guyana and very little was said or known about St Vincent,” pointed out Fraser.

Recounting his journey over the years in researching and publishing the book, he explained that his interest in the 1935 riots (and its subsequent impact) was piqued when he was in the process of completing his doctoral thesis on peasants and labourers in St Vincent.

“One of the issues I hope to address in this book is the tendency to interpret West Indian history based on the experiences of the larger colonies.”

Minister of Education St Clair ‘Jimmy’ Prince also delivered remarks at the book launching, held at Frenches House, asserting that much of our literature surrounding the history and development of SVG is “still not sufficiently a part of us.”

“We have not assimilated it enough; and that’s why the Ministry of Education is so excited about this new book. The history of a country is never complete – there are always gaps, particularly with regard to accuracy, truth, context, meaning,” said Prince.

“But there is always an opening for the historian to enter and shine a light in order to bring to the front a forgotten or neglected part of our people’s experience.”

The Minister expressed sincere thanks to Dr Fraser for “publishing another important segment of our colourful history.”

“I am proud that we have persons willing and certainly capable of telling our own stories from our own perspective.”

Prince recalled that as a history teacher, Dr Fraser’s passionate, varied and thorough approach gave students the benefit of a “much needed variation from the entrenched colonial education on offer at the time.”

“That he has continued to labour in the vineyard to educate the public on aspects of our history is to be commended…

“The more we learn about our past, the more we understand our struggles and our ability to resist and to assert.”

This was emphasized by writer and community activist Oscar Allen, who also spoke at last Thursday’s event.

“This topic… has been a fascinating attraction for the nationalists in St Vincent and the Grenadines for over 50 years,” noted Allen.

He pointed out that over the years, many other notable Vincentian figures have done research and released publications on the 1935 riots, as well.

“This work by Adrian Fraser lifts the discourse to another level; not only because it’s documented and heavily researched,” said Allen.

“The struggle that began with the Garifuna is here still today. 1935 makes us reflect on that and situate ourselves as continuers of that long struggle that has not ended. And has not reached its destination.”

Also delivering remarks (via pre-recorded audio) was Dr Cleve Scott, history lecturer at the UWI Cave Hill Campus, who described the book as “the most extensive study published on the St Vincent events.”

Giving a brief overview of the book’s seven chapters, which spanned from 1935 to 1951, Dr Scott (like Allen) lauded the book for furthering the discourse on the aftermath of the riots.

“What Dr Fraser has gone on to do, he has moved the discourse by looking at the aftermath of the riots… to highlight the importance of the growing working class consciousness and political consciousness, and the influence in the socialist ideology.”

‘The 1935 Riots in St. Vincent: From riots to Adult Suffrage’ not only includes written research on the riots, but also gives oral accounts of incidents that occurred throughout the 1935 riots, interviewing older persons still alive today, who had lived through that period of time.

Additionally, the book – in part – chronicles the political career of George McIntosh, who Dr Fraser believes deserves a place as SVG’s next National Hero.

“McIntosh was used as a scapegoat by the authorities, who felt that the working people were unable, without a mastermind, to do what they did. So, McIntosh was singled out, arrested, because he was considered the mastermind behind the riots.”

Head of the UWI Open Campus (St Vincent) Deborah Dalrymple congratulated Dr Fraser on his latest achievement, and also brought greetings and congratulations from educators and historians around the region.

She asserted: “This book asks us to take a look at the story of the 1935 riots through a uniquely Vincentian lens… I look forward to the other books, which I know must be in the making!” (JSV)