Senator the Honourable Dr. Branford M. Taitt
One of the founding fathers of modern Barbados, His Honour Senator the Dr. Branford Mayhew Taitt played a key role in remaking the island’s economy, improving health care for Barbadians and promoting educational exchanges between institutions of higher learning in Barbados, its neighbouring islands and the United States.
Dr. Taitt was born of humble beginnings in Fairfield, Black Rock St. Michael, the youngest of five (5) children born to St. Clair Rollock and Elma Taitt-Rollock. Dr. Taitt received his formal education at Wesley Hall Boys School and Combermere School. He was soprano soloist in St. Michael’s Cathedral choir under the leadership of the late Gerald Hudson. On completion of his secondary education, Dr. Taitt, spent his first working years with Cable and Wireless in Barbados and Antigua. He later followed his future bride Marjorie to New York, where she was working as a nurse at Brookdale Medical Centre. In 1962, Dr. Taitt got married and began his career in public service with the United Nations Secretariat.
While an undergraduate student at Brooklyn College, Dr. Taitt wrote articles for Barbadian newspapers, urging Barbados to market itself as a tourist destination and to move towards industrial development. His writings caught the attention of the Barbadian Government, and he was eventually invited in 1965 to become the first manager of the Barbados Development Board in New York. In 1967, Dr. Taitt was invited to become Barbados’ first Consul-General at New York with responsibility for the entire United States of America.
Dr. Taitt attracted American investment to Barbados so effectively and successfully (he was, and continues to be a walking advertisement for Barbados with his proud donning of the ???shirt-jack’ suit) that in 1971, His Excellency, the Right Excellent Errol Barrow invited Dr. Taitt to return home to serve as a senator and Minister of Trade Industry and Commerce, a position he held until 1976, when he was then elected to serve as a Member of Parliament representing the then constituency of St. Michael South West. He was re-elected to the country’s Lower House four consecutive times. In 1996, Dr. Taitt was recognized by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association of Barbados for "twenty five (25) consecutive years of distinguished parliamentary service." Dr. Taitt currently holds the record as the longest serving Parliamentarian — from 1971 to 1999.
Dr. Taitt has held several high positions in the country’s Administration, including Minister of Tourism and Industry from 1986- 87; Minister of Health from 1987-1993 and Minister of Foreign Affairs form 1993-1994. Dr. Taitt, as the longest serving Health Minister in the country’s history, represented Barbados at the World Health Assembly for six years. He was elected President of the 23rd Pan American Sanitary Conference in 1990 and was, for many years, chairman of PAHO’s Sub-Committee on Planning and Programming. He has also served as Chairman of the Caribbean Conference of Health Ministers. In 1995, Dr. Taitt was appointed a member and chairman of the World Health Organization’s Multidisciplinary Task Force on Health and Development. In his capacity as Minister of Health, Dr. Taitt was responsible for the introduction of cardiac care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Dr. Taitt served as president of the DLP for three terms and as General Secretary for several years. Dr. Taitt has been an asset to his political colleagues as well. He was campaign manager in the successful bye-elections of now Sir. Richard Haynes and Mrs. Sybil Leacock. He has managed every National Campaign for the DLP since 1971.
Dr. Taitt has worked tirelessly in his representation of Barbados overseas, especially in the field of education. He collaborated with faculty members at Brooklyn College to establish a summer exchange programme between that College and the UWI for students of public administration. He has been a guest lecturer at several colleges and universities in the United States, including Brooklyn College, Yale, Hampton University, Pace College and the University of Puerto Rico. In 2003 a scholarship in his name was established at Drexel University for students of international studies. He had been a distinguished visiting professor at Drexel for many years. He has also lectured at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies.
Dr. Taitt has been the recipient of several degrees — a bachelor’s degree cum laude from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, a Master of Public Administration degree from New York University, an upper second class honours degree in Law from the Cave Hill Campus of UWI. In 2007, he was the first Caribbean scholar to be conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from Brooklyn College.
As a scholar, Dr. Taitt has published more than 200 articles in journals, newspapers and periodicals and is currently working on publishing his speeches and memoirs. He has received many award, including the U.S. Government’s Distinguished Visitor Award (1983) and the Sir Gaston Johnston Memorial Prize of the University of the West Indies for Excellence in Criminal Law. He was named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by Brooklyn College by Brooklyn College in 1974. His love for his country is so great that he encouraged not only his late wife, Marjorie, to read for her UWI degree in history, but all three of their children, who each received their first degrees there as well.
God has been central in Dr. Taitt’s life. He is a faithful member of St. Leonard’s Anglican Church and he has served as a member of the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Barbados for several years. For more than 30 years, he has continued inviting choirs to his Black Rock home every Good Friday night, to perform "The Crucifixion."
Dr. Taitt is married to his second wife, Colleen, and has three children — Sharonne, Monique and Branford Jr, a grandson Marley, 3 step children — Dawn-Marie, Gina and Sean and 7 step-grandchildren. He enjoys daily visits to the beach, reading, writing, travelling and spending time with family and close friends.
In 2004, Dr. Taitt formally retired from active politics, only to be called to service again in 2008 when he was asked to serve as a Senator; he was elected by his colleague senators to be President.