Today, I pause to pay tribute to a Barbadian who has contributed immensely to the robustness that characterizes our current politics.
Whether or not you supported his political stance, it cannot be denied that Dr. Don Blackman’s brand of politics in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s confirmed the maturity of our democracy.
Dr. Blackman possessed a tongue that was as sharp as they came, an intellect that had to be respected, oratorical skills that were envied by many, and a fearlessness that won him friends as easily as it created enemies.
No doubt, the style with which Dr. Blackman espoused his position on subjects such as black power and the enfranchisement of the poor, always projected under a banner of “redressing past imbalances”, was the catalyst that drew some of our politicians of today into the political fray.
And it is this style that today still makes Dr. Blackman a household name in The Ivy and other districts of the St. Michael East constituency he represented, first as a member of the Barbados Labour Party, and then with the Democratic Labour Party — more than 30 years after he walked away from the hustings with the same level of intrigue and controversy that accompanied his tenure.
Dr. Don Blackman tested our system of party politics, he tested our conduct of parliamentary debates, he challenged our conservative approaches to settling social issues and today our politics and our nation are the better for it.
On behalf of the Government and people of Barbados, I extend sympathy to his wife and family, as well as those residents of St. Michael East, to whom he remains a dear and respected friend.
Rest In Peace.
Dr. DON Blackman, 86, was Minister of Labour and Community Services from 1978 to1980, Minister of Transport and Works from 1981 to1983, Minister of Health and Community Services from 1983 to1984, and Minister of Transport and Works in 1988.
He was considered one of the most charismatic politicians and dynamic platform speakers of the Barbados in the 1980s and played a key role in the 24-3 victory of the DLP in the general election of 1986.
He attended Lincoln’s Inn, London, York University, Toronto, New York University, New School for Social and Economics Research, New New York.
He served in Barbados, United Kingdom and Canadian Civil Services 1955-1958. Lecturer in Afro-American History and Literature, Long Island University 1969-1970. Instructor in Philosophy and Social Science, State University of New York at Stony Brook 1970-1971. Chair, and Associate Professor, African Studies Department, State University of New York 1971-1976.