Given the current media attention being given to the war against terrorism, African people should not forget significant events in our history. One of the events we should not forget is the United States invasion of the island of Grenada. The Caribbean island of Grenada has virtually been banned from international news coverage.
It was 36 years ago that Grenada was a major international news item as a result of the United States’ invasion of this African island of 110,000 people on October 25, 1983.
The headlines of the October 26, 1983, issue of the New York Times were the following: “1,900 U.S. Troops, With Caribbean Allies, Invade Grenada and Fight Leftist Units; Moscow Protest; British Are Critical.”
Just as we observe the United States destabilization tactics in the Middle East today, these were the same tactics used in Grenada 30 years ago.
These tactics go something like this: Since the African people cannot govern and rule themselves; we must come to their aid in a humanitarian manner. We must provide them with food and other necessities of life. We must identify or create allies among the African people and create an atmosphere of support for the efforts of the United States to bring peace, harmony, and stability to the African people. Does this sound familiar? Obviously, the majority of the people in the Middle East oppose these tactics and are rebelling against them, just as the people of Grenada resisted the United States’ invasion 20 years ago.
I began writing my weekly column 30 years ago because of what we, in the National Black United Front (NBUF), observed as the continuing white supremacy policies of the United States toward Grenada, the New Jewel Movement and its leader Maurice Bishop.
This is what I wrote in my first column that appeared in the Chicago Defender on October 24, 1983:
“The Black Liberation Movement worldwide is deeply saddened by the death of Grenada’s Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop. Mr. Bishop, along with other Grenadian officials, including Education Minister, Jacqueline Creft, Housing Minister, Norris Bain, Unision Whiteman, a former foreign minister, Secretary of Home Affairs, Vincent Noel and union leader Fitzroy Bain, were killed by the new army forces on October 19 in a demonstration to free hundreds of Grenadians who were arrested because of their support for Mr. Bishop. These supporters had been placed in detention in Fort Rupert Army Headquarters, named after Rupert Bishop, Maurice’s father.”
As I continued to write in this first column— “This Caribbean identity simply means the interconnectedness of the African experience that resulted in millions of African people being captured and brought to this region of the world during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade of the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries.”
Further, as I explained in this column, “This area of the world is predominately African and the people in it have been struggling against white domination in an effort to achieve independence and sovereignty. Grenada, under the leadership of Maurice Bishop, was a shining example of an African government and nation seeking independence and sovereignty.”
There are many lessons that the invasion of Grenada taught us. Lessons that continue to plague the worldwide African Liberation Movement that are steeped in the efforts of the white supremacy forces to always find some African person or persons to keep us divided and fighting each other, rather than focusing on and fighting the real enemy.
In the case of Grenada, an African man, who Maurice Bishop had practiced law with and who became the Deputy Prime Minister, was the chief architect of Maurice Bishop’s and the New Jewel Movement’s overthrow that provided the open door for the United States’ invasion of the island.
As I wrote 36 years ago in my first column, and as so many had stated before me, “The real question for the Black Liberation Movement worldwide is when will we stop killing each other over political disputes? This was clearly a political dispute between different forces within the New Jewel Movement. All factions had pledged a commitment to bring about change for the people of the island, and Bishop was beginning to bring about that change as the popular outpouring of support for him during the fighting intensified. Did someone want that change to stop?”
In the same context I wrote— “One thing is certain, African Movement forces must find political solutions to political disputes. Killing each other is not the answer to changing systems that are exploitive of our people.”
We must always remember Grenada and the words that Maurice Bishop spoke at Hunter College in New York on June 5, 1983. Maurice said, “Our people, therefore, have a greater and deeper understanding of what the revolution means and what it has brought them.”
The people of Grenada and the New Jewel Movement will return, as all African people will once again find our place in the sun. Even though it appears to be bleak, we must continue to struggle and move forward.
Dr. Conrad Worrill, Professor Emeritus, Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies (CCICS). New office location is at 1809 E. 71st Street, Chicago, Illinois 60649, 773-592-2598. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.drconradworrill.com.