In 1969, the newly established Bogle L’Ouverture Publishing House released its first book – a collection of papers by Guyanese revolutionary historian Walter Rodney titled The Groundings With My Brothers. This was a response to the Jamaican government’s banning of Rodney, then a lecturer at the University of the West Indies’ founding Mona campus, which sparked a student protest that morphed into a riot among disaffected Jamaicans.
In February 2019, Jamaican Cultural Activist Carolyn Cooper spoke at a 50th anniversary commemoration of Bogle L’Ouverture Publishing – a presentation titled ‘Bearing Witness – the Walter Rodney Uprising in Jamaica’ which we’ll reprise at the UWI Museum on Wednesday April 24, 2019.
In a recent interview as part of an oral history collection related to its current ‘Confrontations’ exhibition, attorney Richard Small recalled Walter Rodney giving him a sheaf of papers related to work outside of his university job, that he had been doing in Jamaica, and asking him to assist in getting it published. This was when Rodney had left Jamaica in early October 1968 to attend a Congress of Black Writers in Montreal, Canada. It was when he tried to return to Jamaica to continue his work as a historian at the UWI’s Mona Campus, that he was declared persona non grata and not allowed to land. Small took the Rodney papers back to London where he strategised with Guyanese activists Eric and Jessica Huntley to get it published:
“The Huntleys, together with lawyer Richard Small and prominent mathematician Ewart Thomas, organised a demonstration at the Jamaica Tourist Board in London in response and Jessica Huntley organised community funding to finance the publication.” (https://www.georgepadmoreinstitute.org )
Confrontations: UWI Student Protest & the Rodney Disturbance of 1968 is running at the UWI Museum from 10 – 4, weekdays except public holidays. The UWI Museum is located inside the UWI Regional HQ building at Mona, Jamaica.