Trinidad plans to honour 60s civil rights hero Kwame Ture

Authorities in Port of Spain are considering renaming a street in honour of him writes Amandla Thomas Johnson

PLANNED HONOUR: Kwame Ture, born Stokley Carmichael, is revered as one of the heroes of the struggle for civil rights in 1960s America

A plan to rename a Port of Spain street in honour of Kwame Ture would be a “fitting tribute” to the Black Power icon.

Ture’s son, Bokar Ture told Sunday Newsday he is “excited” that authorities in the capital are considering the move and said despite his father’s living abroad for most of his life, he always “carried his Trini identity with him.”

His intervention comes shortly after Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiongo told an audience at last month’s Carifesta XIV that the country ought to honour its heroes and build “monuments to our glory,” adding to growing calls for public spaces to better reflect the heritage and values of TT as an independent nation.

DEBATE

There was debate on social media in early August, after it was reported that deputy mayor of Port of Spain Hillan Morean had said the city corporation was considering a request from the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) to rename Oxford Street after Ture, born Stokely Carmichael.

Speaking from Paris, 38-year-old Bokar, the elder of Ture’s two sons, said: “I’m excited. I think it will only be fitting given the huge impact Kwame Ture had not only on the civil rights movement in America, but also around the world as a leading Pan-Africanist.

FREEDOM FIGHER: Ture marching with Dr Martin Luther King in the 1960s

“A lot of countries have retaken ownership of their streets and made it something that reflects the local reality.

HONOUR

“TT needs to honour its own heroes. We’ve been independent for many years now.”

Born in 1941 and raised by his grandmother in a house on Belmont’s Oxford Street, Carmichael as he was then known, left Trinidad to join his parents in Harlem, New York when he was 11.

By the time he enrolled to study philosophy at Howard University in Washington DC in 1960, the Civil Rights movement was in full swing. He became one of the Freedom Riders – the daring young activists who rode segregated buses in an effort to smash racial segregation in America’s South.

Dashing, witty and charismatic, he would rise to become a major civil rights leader, second only to his friend and mentor Dr Martin Luther King.

His call for Black Power in 1966 would reverberate globally. When TT had its own Black Power revolution in 1970, the authorities, fearful of his influence, banned him from returning home.

He died in 1998.

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