It doesn’t yet hang in the museum, but a painting of Seacolite women marching records part of the university’s history – dating back to the days when the young women on the campus mostly lived in the new women’s hall, Mary Seacole Hall (named after a famous Jamaican ‘doctress’).
The hall’s dining room was not commissioned, and the young ladies were required to make a daily trek up the road to Irvine Hall for meals – come rain or shine.
Seacole opened in 1958. Months later, the residents were weary of walking; and to add insult to injury, when the UWI Chancellor and her cousin the Princess Royal visited UWI for the annual Commemmoration celebrations, the uncommissioned dining room was the location for a formal dinner. The young ladies revolted. When the princesses and other dignitaries were attending a ground-breaking ceremony across the road from the hall, soon after the offending banquet, they donned their white ‘church’ dresses and their red undergraduate robes and arrayed themselves silently around the perimeter. Then at the end of the ceremony, they held up placards bemoaning their plight.
Click to hear a group of Seacole alumnni telling the story: