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Local historian publishes book on St Vincent’s 1935 riots

Local historian publishes book on St Vincent’s 1935 riots

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“It is really the start of a lot of things that led up to Adult Suffrage in 1951, and eventually to Independence.”

This was how local historian Dr Adrian Fraser described the 1935 Riots – on which he recently published a book – which he explained played a significant role in shaping modern-day St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

The book, titled ‘The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage,’ was published by the University of the West Indies Press (Jamaica) on October 21, 2016 and recounts the events leading up to and following the 1935 Riots.

Dr Fraser explained that he was inspired to write a book about this period in Vincentian history when he was conducting research during his time as head of the UWI Open Campus (St Vincent and the Grenadines).

“The more I began to read about it, the more I felt that it is something that would be of interest to people,” he said.

Dr Fraser explained that following the 1935 riots, increasing numbers of Vincentians were allowed to vote. Prior to 1935, only citizens who had high income and owned property were allowed to vote.

“After 1935, it was reduced a bit. So, you had people like [George] McIntosh, who was a pharmacist, and some other professionals who were able to enter the political fray. Then, in 1951, all persons – once you were 21 years of age – could vote.”

According to the historian, it put a lot of pressure on the authorities to ensure that increasing numbers of persons could become “involved in the political process”.

“During the riots, the Governor himself said that when he looked at the people who were rioting, he realized that these were people who were not represented in Parliament… It opened their eyes to exactly what was happening.”

He further explained that when McIntosh got into power, he raised issues that were important to working people, such as education, land settlement and religious freedom.

Although ‘The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage’ is currently only available for purchase on Amazon.com, Dr Fraser is awaiting hard copies of the book, so that he can launch it officially by the end of November.

He also said that he is already working on another book, which will give detailed accounts of the history of SVG.

“Most of the research is done. Hopefully over the next six or seven months I will be able to have most of that in place.”

In particular, he will be focusing on slavery and how it affected society.

“Not a lot has been written about slavery in St Vincent. Most of the other areas like with Chatoyer and that period… are well known…

“Another area which is important was land settlement… Before 1899, only a few people – maybe about five or six planters – owned most of the cultivable land in St Vincent and the Grenadines. By 1899, a lot of pressure was put on the Government, so that they introduced what was called the First Land Settlement Scheme, which involved places like Troumaca and those areas on the Leeward side.”

Dr Fraser’s previous publications include ‘Chatoyer (Chatawae): First National Hero of St Vincent and the Grenadines’; ‘From Shakers to Spiritual Baptists: The Struggle for Survival of the Shakers of St Vincent and the Grenadines’; and (in collaboration with Keith Joseph) ‘Caribbean Social Studies: St Vincent and the Grenadines’. (JSV)

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