Richard Hart (right) receiving a gift from Audrey Smith of the PNP Women’s Movement, while Everton Pryce looks on during the celebration of his 75th birthday in 1992. (Credits: The Gleaner)
We mourn Richard Hart who joined the Ancestors after a long life of struggle for workers’ and peasants’ rights and against colonialism and neo-colonialism. Dick as he was popularly known, was a founder member and Honorary President of Caribbean Labour Solidarity. An avowed Marxist and socialist lawyer, Dick Hart acted as legal consultant to Maurice Bishop’s People’s Revolutionary Government in Grenada, becoming its Attorney General in 1982 until the demise of the Revolution and the subsequent US invasion of that island in October 1983.
Dick Hart’s life-long work started when he was not yet into his twenties. His political activism which both drew upon and informed his theorizing, his praxis in other words, and especially his writings on slavery, capitalism and colonialism places him in the same league as CLR James, Eric Williams and Walter Rodney (to name but a few).
What is common to the work of all those giants is the position of enslaved Africans on a spectrum that runs from the Middle Passage itself, to the plantations, to the reconfigured plantations under neo-colonialism, to the betrayal of workers’ and peasants’ struggles by successive neo-colonial governments that have been wagged by the tail and the nose simultaneously by former colonialists and imperialists whose shoes too many have been massively eager to fill. All those ‘giants’, irrespective of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, forged their politics against the backcloth of the work of the Rt Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the movement in the Caribbean towards Pan-Africanism to which it gave rise.
Dick Hart’s death comes at a time when the debate about reparations for the enslavement of Africans and their use as chattels to create the wealth upon which most of Western Europe was built is gaining pace.
WATCH: Gus John, Richard Hart & the campaign for the release of the Grenada 17
A report in the Jamaica Observer 12 December 2013 notes that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Reparations Commission, chaired by historian Professor Sir Hillary Beckles, said that ‘its first report that speaks to reparatory justice for the region will be ready for submission to next February’s Heads of Government meeting. Sir Hillary Beckles said following consultations with British attorneys from Leigh Day, which he described as an internationally respected law firm that specialises in cases of this nature, the commission agreed that Caricom member states should request reparatory dialogue with past slave-owning European states — Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark in a move to formulate a new development agenda for the Caribbean’. Read the rest of this entry →