Come Wi Go Down Memory Lane: Colour and Class in the West Indies

There is a popular thought that the University was dominated by the light-skinned upper class prior to the 1970s when education was made free by the People’s National Party (PNP) government. Several visitors to the UWI Museum were quite shocked to see individuals of dark brown complexion among the first batch of students. Despite being informed that the majority of these students received a scholarship to attend the University, some visitors argue that they were “privileged blacks” of wealthy backgrounds.

The article “Colour and Class in the West Indies: An Introspection with an Interpretation on Campus” by Anon, published in the 1958 Pelican Newsletter, provides substantive insight into the class and colour composition on the Mona Campus in the 1950s. The images captured by the late Dr Owen Minott while he was a student at Mona, also shed light on the University demography and the relationship between the students. Note, with the U(C)WI being a regional university, these students were nationals of various Caribbean countries.

While we do not have direct access to the past, these pieces from the past are avenues through which we can learn. Remember, you can share your memories of life at U(C)WI in an article, audio or video recording. Do your part in creating a route to the past.

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