The Economic Future of the Caribbean’ ISBN 0-912469-37-4 – edited by Dr. Eric Williams and the respected black scholar, E. Franklin Frazier, is now a re-issue of that 1944 book. “The vision articulated in this work remains striking in its relevance to the 21st century Caribbean” says Erica. It includes a new Preface by Mrs Erica Williams-Connell and a new Introduction to the book by Prof. Tony Martin, Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Published by The Majority Press, this book is available from A Different Booklist and Knowledge Bookstore locally or on-line at www.themajoritypress.com or Amazon.com
E. Franklin Frazier, the distinguished sociologist, was Chairman of Howard University’s Division of Social Sciences, which sponsored Williams’ 1943 conference. Among the several books which he authored are ‘The Black Bourgeoisie’ and ‘The Negro Family in the United States’
Erica’s point about the book’s relevance cannot be taken lightly, when seen against the backdrops of such a dearth in intellectual resolves to unification in spite of the existence of CARICOM for some extensive period and the need for policies to raise the average Caribbean family out of poverty; or when seen against the recent obstructions by members of the Opposition in Trinidad to the passage of legislation for implementation of the Caribbean Court of Justice or to the proposal of distractions as alternate priorities to the need for educating and preparing the whole nation of T&T for assuming the Hispano-lingual responsibilities of the FTAA headquarters.
Professor Martin was also overwhelming in his details about the atmosphere that gave rise to the positive thinking on such a topic in the period leading up to and at the conference at Howard University, about the academics and economists who shared Williams passionate interest in it, favorably or with discordance, and about their political and social ideologies. He further painted images of how Dr Williams was regarded with high esteem and respect by scholars, politicians and his peers of the period but with trepidation and at instances with contempt and cunning by the colonial administrators. Finally Martin traced the growth of Williams political ambitions as they visibly appeared to those who took the opportunity to note his disenchantment with the colonial order of the day from some twelve years before he struck his political cornerstone in Trinidad, through his years at the Caribbean Commission and through to his retrenchment from the Commission for motivating change at the community level in the Caribbean.
The presenters, the organizers of the reception including the decorators of the hall, the steel pannist, the keyboardist, the caterer, the staff of the Sheraton Hotel and the staff of the Consulate-General are worthy of special congratulations for a remarkable effort on this the 7th anniversary of the inauguration of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection. There was no lack of magnanimity from the members of the audience as their beaming radiance and their swarming of the presenters and the book kiosk attested.
- From CULTURE CHEST Newsletter 2005 SPRG Issue 1, Ed 1
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Trinidad-born Dr. Tony Martin, one of the two great authorities on Marcus Mosiah Garvey -- the other is Jamaican academic Professor Robert Hill -- made an interesting remark last Saturday evening in Toronto.
In truth, he made a number of them at a reception hosted by Trinidad and Tobago Consul General Michael G.-A. Lashley, to introduce the re-publication of The Economic Future of the Caribbean, edited by E. Franklin Frazier and Eric Williams, 60 years after it first saw the light of day.
It is actually the Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Conference of Howard University’s Division of Social Sciences, which Williams, then Assistant Professor of Social and Political Science, helped organize in 1943.
It has been re-published to mark the Seventh Anniversary of “The Eric Williams Memorial Collection,” an archive made possible by Erica Williams Connell, using her father’s vast agglomeration of books, papers and letters.
She contributes a Preface to the book, and Martin provides a fascinating 23-page Introduction called “Eric Williams and the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, 1942-1944.”
It is a masterful piece of work, carefully constructed, meticulously documented and scrupulously fair, as Martin walks his readers through Williams’ convoluted efforts to land the job of his dreams.
Reference to letters and papers in “The Eric Williams Memorial Collection” are illuminating, and on several occasions show that the facts were somewhat different from those retailed by Williams in his 1969 autobiography, Inward Hunger: The Education of a Prime Minister.
He was not without guile in his mission, single-minded, resorting to flattery and sycophancy where he thought necessary, and Martin feels constrained to use the word “Machiavellian” more than once.
In the end, Williams got what he wanted: the post of Research Secretary of the Agricultural Committee of the Caribbean Research Council of the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission -- AACC.
It was his ante-chamber to politics. Fired a decade later, he returned home, founded the People’s National Movement, and was successively Chief Minister, Premier and Prime Minister between 1956 and 1981.
A lawyer and historian by training, Martin is Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where he has taught since 1973. Now semi-retired, he teaches in the Spring and spends the Fall in Trinidad.
This has enabled him to familiarize himself with ‘The Eric Williams Memorial Collection,” whose establishment he calls “arguably the most significant event in Caribbean archives in the last few years.”
He also owns a small a publishing house called The Majority Press, much of whose output to date has been concerned with Garvey, but which is expanding its general range, scope and breadth.
The Economic Future of the Caribbean was published by Howard University Press a year after the Conference. Martin notes that it is not even mentioned in the index of Inward Hunger, but feels that Williams was far more focused on the fact that his classic Capitalism and Slavery was poised for publication by the University of North Carolina Press that same year.
It was -- and is -- his magnum opus and, even though he published many other books, remains a benchmark in Caribbean historiography, expanded upon by others since, but certainly never superceded.
The remark by Martin which struck home with me was almost an aside and concerned the impact exerted on Caribbean politics by New York-based expatriate West Indian organizations in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
It is, he notes, a story that “has never really been told.” In fact, the heads of two of the more important the expatriate organizations made presentations at “The Economic Future of the Caribbean” conference at Howard.
They were Jamaica-born novelist and historian W. Adolphe Roberts, Founder of the Jamaica Progressive League, and Trinidad-born physician Dr. C. Augustin Petioni, President of the West Indies National Council.
Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, the most powerful Black organization in the world in the early 1920s, had waned by the mid-1930s, its founder wrongly convicted of mail fraud and deported to his native Jamaica, his followers quarrelling over the spoils.
A new breed of activists, as interested in bettering the lot of the lands of their birth as in bettering their own positions in the United States, had come on the scene, and by the early 1940s they were pressing for self-government, raising funds for the up-and-coming politicians, making their voices heard.
Martin is right. Theirs is a story that has never been satisfactorily told, and I hope that having voiced the thought, he will now turn it into action and chronicle that as yet unwritten saga.