Jayne Cortez: one last tribute

January 5, 2013 in Blog

We mourn our sister’s passing and give the Creator thanks for her purposeful and inspirational life that enriched us so very much and made us so much stronger and more resolute in struggle.

She was in every sense a kindred spirit and a clarion voice, making the medium of poetry work in ways that many traditionalists found bewildering, especially in the academy.

As synchronicity would have it, we are remembering and celebrating all she gave to us even as we are congratulating our brother Linton Kwesi Johnson for his equally unique bending of the medium in the service of the Jamaican language and his dynamic bilingualism as a world first that eminently qualified him for the Golden Pen award.

May we ever celebrate and validate our prophetic voices and see them as the gifts of the Universe that they are, loaned to us for a purpose and for a time, and abandon the tendency to take them and their presence among us and as part of us for granted.

Our Sister Jayne remains very much a part of us through the impact she has had, the way she touched us individually and through the immortality of her words and of her fighting and liberating spirit. Read the rest of this entry →

Jayne Cortez: A Star is Dimmed

December 30, 2012 in Blog

It is with profound sadness that I write about the passing of Jayne Cortez, globally renowned poet and cultural activist and a dear friend of the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books and its successor, the George Padmore Institute.

I was a member of the Book Fair organizing committee and a founder trustee of the George Padmore Institute.

Many will recall Jayne’s electrifying poetry readings at the Book Fair festival and her participation in the literary debates at the Book Fair.  The very first Book Fair in 1982 was opened by the late CLR James and was followed by annual and then bi-annual fairs until 1995.  Jayne attended most if not all and was a star performer at poetry evenings at the Book Fair festival.  She thus became a well-loved member of the International Book Fair family. Read the rest of this entry →

Gus John pays tribute to Gerry German

May 3, 2012 in Blog

It is with deep, deep sadness that I inform you of Gerry German‘s passing.  He died at 03.00 this morning of a heart attack at home.  I am sure that, like me, you will be shocked at the suddenness of his death.

Gerry was a life-long campaigner for children’s education rights and an unwavering supporter of all our struggles.  Having been a former headteacher and Principal Education Officer at the Community Relations Commission/Commission for Race Equality, he helped to establish the Working Group Against Racism in Children’s Resources and 13 years ago invited me and a couple others to join him in setting up the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN).

Over those 13 years, CEN has dealt with an average of 1,000 school exclusion cases per year, providing advocacy to school students and their parents and representing them at School Governors Disciplinary Committees and at Independent Appeals Panels.  Each year, we have taken some deserving cases to Judicial Review and won most of them.  Gerry remained the main case worker for CEN and its unpaid Director until yesterday.  I am currently Chair of CEN for the second time, having been its Founding Chair.On Monday 30 April, Gerry introduced and made the closing remarks at a session at Lambeth Town Hall:  The Power of Love  -  Spiritual Leader Dadi Janki (age 96) of the Brahma Kumaris in Conversation with Professor Gus John.

He was 84.

We give thanks for his extraordinary life and his giving and compassionate spirit.

Peace and Hope!

A tribute on Facebook

Picture (homepage):

Yellow Blooms” by Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton (Flickr)