Official opening of the Golden Square Freedom Park. (PMO)

The “stomping ground” where Clement Payne conveyed the powerful message to “educate, agitate, but do not violate” to Barbadians, has been officially opened as the Golden Square Freedom Park.

And, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who delivered the feature address at the opening of the park on Saturday, said it was a “joyous day”, which represented the pilgrimage of this country.

“The journey is not yet over, but along the journey, just as we must take sustenance, we must find moments for reflection and moments for recommitment. And as we move to become a Parliamentary Republic after 396 years of British monarchial rule, it is important that we find those moments of reflection in these few days and in these new spaces.

“I ask us to recognise that the challenges may have changed, but they are as daunting as they ever were.  The resilience required of us is no less than the resilience required of our grandparents…,” she stressed.

Ms. Mottley said the Golden Square Freedom Park, located in the centre of The City, would forever remind citizens of the sacrifices made of life and liberty, to allow future generations to be here and enjoy life in an independent nation.

Those attending the opening of the park included Governor General and President-elect Dame Sandra Mason; Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Rodney Williams; Chief Justice Sir Patterson Cheltenham; members of Cabinet and a cross section of Barbadians.

Ms. Mottley told Barbadians that this journey must not mirror the travesties and tyranny of those who went before. She indicated that standing in time, without taking decisions for fear of becoming unpopular or otherwise, would not reap the success and progress needed for people.

“The journey is not yet over, but along the journey, just as we must take sustenance, we must find moments for reflection and moments for recommitment. And as we move to become a Parliamentary Republic after 396 years of British monarchial rule, it is important that we find those moments of reflection in these few days and in these new spaces.”

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley

“We have too many battles to fight, as a nation and as a people, and we must talk with each other.  We must engage each other, but we must always decide and move forward. We will not always get it right, but we must always remain committed to those principles that will guide us and when we falter, we must get back up and move again, just as our children have learned to do….

“Remember the words of Clement Payne – yes, we must forever educate, yes, we must forever agitate, but let us not violate because the loss of life or the loss of liberty are prices too dear to pay,” she stated.

During the two-hour ceremony, which was put on by the National Cultural Foundation and managed by its Festival and Event Planner, Stacia Bryan, there were presentations from Dancin’ Africa, Jus D, Pinelands Creative Workshop and TC, among others, and a plaque was unveiled.

Included in the two-acre park, which has flags of Barbados and CARICOM flying high, are a Builders of Barbados Wall, a Community Wall, and a 1937 Memorial Wall, with benches which were gifted to this island by Suriname.  

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Pan Africanist Trevor Prescod unveil the plaque to officially open Golden Square Freedom Park on Saturday evening. Looking on are Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Culture; John King (left) and CEO of Barbados Tourism Investment Inc., Stuart Layne. (Brooks LaTouche/BGIS)

Inscribed on the Builders of Barbados Wall are the surnames of people who lived here, and blocks have been included for those who resided here, but whose names have not been found.

Golden Square, a depressed working class community in Bridgetown in the 1930s, was where now National Hero, the Right Excellent Clement Payne, held his most important mass meetings.

When he was deported from Barbados on July 26, 1937, it was from Golden Square that the assembled crowd proceeded into the commercial areas in Bridgetown and destroyed property.  

The four days of violence in various parts of the island left 14 people dead, 47 wounded, 500 arrested, and millions of dollars in property damage. Historians agree that Barbados was never the same again.

In the early 21st Century, the then Ministry of Education and Culture collaborated with the Clement Payne Movement to establish a bust of Clement Payne, a monument to the martyrs, and an amphitheatre in Golden Square.  \Over time, the public market was relocated to the area and the amphitheatre was demolished.

In 2020, with the demolition of the former National Insurance Building, the Barbados Fire Service Headquarters, and the temporary public markets, all in close proximity to Golden Square, the two-acre Golden Square Freedom Park was constructed.  It is intended to be “a space of peace and reflection, education, agitation and nation-building”.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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