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Dr. Anne Walmsley: She also worked as a freelance consultant editor and writer

on African and Caribbean Literature and Education. She is well known for her

documentation of the history of The Caribbean Artists Movement



UWI honours sixteen of the Region's beacons

Cave Hill, May 25, 2009


In its ongoing campaign to shine light on those who tirelessly contribute to the growth of the region, The University of the West Indies (UWI) will confer honorary degrees on sixteen such worthy individuals during graduation ceremonies on all the UWI campuses later this year: The Honourable Dunstan St. Omer, Dr. Peggy Antrobus, Prof Arnold Rampersad, Angela Cropper, Mr. Christopher Laird, Mr. Robert B. Riley, Mr. Yesu Persaud, Professor Zelma Edgell, Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, Mr. Paul Bernard Altman, Sir Frederick Ballantyne GCMG, Professor Colin A Palmer, Dr. Anne Walmsley, Honourable Oliver F. Clarke, Mr. John Maxwell, The Honourable John Issa.

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At the Mona Campus, The Honourable John Issa will receive a Doctor of Laws degree. This consultant and entrepreneur is one of the most influential figures in the Jamaican tourism industry. A former Senator in the Jamaican Parliament, he has served as Executive Chairman to Superclubs International Ltd (which represents the Breezes chain of hotels) and its subsidiaries and as a director of Grace Kennedy Ltd. He has been credited with introducing the concept of all-inclusive hotels in Jamaica, thereby revolutionising the island’s tourist industry. Issa has received more than 18 national and industry awards, including the Order of Jamaica (1998), Tourism Medal of Excellence (2001), Trail Blazer Award (2005) and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Travel and Tourism (2007).

The degree DLitt honoris causa will be awarded to Mr. John Maxwell, veteran journalist and environmental activist. Involved in media since the 1950s, he has lectured at CARIMAC, UWI, as well as at UTECH, Jamaica. During his six-decade career, he has published over 1,500 columns and has been interviewed regularly by local and international media houses as an expert in his field. He has been an icon in public education, especially in areas such as decolonisation, democratic governance and related topics. Maxwell is a passionate and unstinting advocate for the protection of beaches and other environmental causes in Jamaica and throughout the region as well as for the political liberation of Haiti.

Another recipient of the Doctor of Laws degree will be the Honourable Oliver F. Clarke, Chairman and Managing Director of the Gleaner Company. He is often credited with turning one of the oldest newspaper publishers in the region into a very successful media enterprise. He has not only revitalised Jamaican news media, but he is the co-founder of the Caribbean Media Corporation which is now the region’s leading multimedia communication service. He is also Chairman of the West Indian section of the Commonwealth Press Union and President of the Inter- American Press Association. He is the recipient of Jamaica’s prestigious national honour, the Order of Jamaica.

For her achievements as a publisher and cultural historian, the Honorary DLitt will be conferred on Dr. Anne Walmsley. Born in Derby, England, she fell in love with Caribbean culture and has since devoted herself to producing and disseminating works of West Indian Literature and Visual Arts. After relocating to Jamaica where she became intimate with the Caribbean she returned to the UK determined to make use of her experiences. Though unsuccessful at first, she eventually became the first Caribbean publisher for Longmans and was instrumental in having several Caribbean classics republished. She also worked as a freelance consultant editor and writer on African and Caribbean Literature and Education. She is well known for her documentation of the history of The Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM). Her deeply rooted interest in Caribbean culture and her efforts to ensure its preservation through her extensive documentation in over 39 publications has certainly merited the UWI’s recognition. Books by Anne Walmsley: Guyana Dreaming, The Sun's Eye: West Indian Writing for Young Readers.

Professor Colin A Palmer will also receive a DLitt at the Mona Campus. A prolific scholar and historian, he has produced over 60 publications with several papers still to be published. Professor Palmer’s range of scholarly interests is exceptionally wide, thus he can serve as an expert in several areas including history and black culture. Aside from his academic endeavours he has served the region in several community initiatives through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Currently a Dodge Professor at Princeton University, USA, he remains committed and loyal to his alma mater, UWI Mona. Books by Colin A. Palmer: Encyclopedia Of African American Culture And History: The Black Experience In The Americas, Eric Williams and the Making of the Modern Caribbean, Inward Hunger: The Education of a Prime Minister, and Passageways: An Interpretive History Of Black America

At the Cave Hill Campus, Sir Frederick Ballantyne GCMG (Knight Grand Cross), Governor General of St Vincent and the Grenadines, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Sciences degree. Sir Frederick has served in this capacity since September 2nd, 2002, and was knighted in November. He replaced Monica Dacon who had been interim Governor General after the death of Sir Charles Antrobus.  He has had a long and distinguished career as a Medical Doctor, Educator and Administrator. He has also been a successful entrepreneur in St Vincent and the Grenadines with several business enterprises, including real estate, marina operations, pharmaceuticals and the hospitality industry.

Mr. Paul Bernard Altman is also expected to be honoured with an LLD at the Cave Hill Campus. This entrepreneur has prospered as a leader in tourism development and heritage conservation in the Caribbean for over 30 years. He currently serves as the Managing Director of Altman Real Estate, the Caribbean’s leading real estate agency. An avid support of The UWI, he has devoted his time and resources in the role of Chairman of the Barbados Board of Trustees for the Endowment Fund and has served as a member of the Campus Council. He was inducted into the Chancellor’s Circle in 2008. For his evident dedication to his work, he was awarded the Centennial Honour (2000) and the Gold Crown of Merit in 2007 by the Government of Barbados.  Mr. Altman also serves his community as a Justice of the Peace.

Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford will also receive an LLD at the Cave Hill Campus. This scholar wears several hats including statesman, author, educator, diplomat and politician. Having served as the fourth Prime Minister of Barbados, he has over 32 years of unbroken and devoted service to Parliament, and holds the record of the longest serving Minister of Education in Barbados. He served the University as President of the Guild (1958) while a student at The UWI and was a member of numerous University councils. An advocate of tertiary education, he also held posts as a part-time lecturer and distinguished fellow, and established The Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic. Sir Lloyd is also known for his commitment to Caribbean integration, as he was heavily involved in both the formation of the Caribbean Examinations Council and the Heads of Government Meeting which made the decision to institute the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

Professor Zelma Edgell is expected to receive a DLitt at the Cave Hill Campus. A native of Belize, this accomplished novelist began her career as a reporter for the Jamaica Gleaner. Having completed a Masters in Liberal Studies, she currently serves as an Associate Professor at Kent State University, Ohio, USA. She has struggled to advance the position of women in society, serving as the Director of both the Women’s Bureau in the Government of Belize, and the Department of Women’s Affairs. Books by Zee Edgell: Beka Lamb, In Times Like These, Time and the River, and The Festival of San Joaquin

At the St. Augustine Campus Graduation Ceremonies, Mr. Yesu Persaud is to receive an LLD for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavours,. From humble beginnings in Guyana, this businessman transformed Demerara Distillers Ltd into one of the most modern, technologically advanced distilleries in the Caribbean. Additionally, he has distinguished himself as founder and chairman of Demerara Bank Ltd, one of the first West Indian banks wholly owned and managed by Guyanese. Aside from his business portfolio, Mr. Persaud is known for his philanthropic spirit. He founded one of the largest micro credit facilities in the Commonwealth Caribbean. He has also established several trusts and foundations which raise funds for various groups in need. He has also been an instrumental figure in the cultural arena, as chairman of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), Guyana.

The UWI will honour petroleum industry pioneer, Mr. Robert B. Riley with an LLD.  As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BP Trinidad and Tobago, he has been at the helm of a company which contributes 25% of the Trinidad and Tobago Government’s tax revenue. Additionally, he is credited with pioneering offshore petroleum platforms in Trinidad and Tobago. Under his leadership, bpTT has doubled its output from 200 to 400 million barrels of oil equivalent daily. For his contribution to the economic development of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Riley was awarded the National Chaconia Gold Medal.

Theatre artist and poet Mr. Christopher Laird will receive the honorary D Litt. Mr. Laird has devoted his life to developing the media, communication and film industries in Trinidad and Tobago. He was heavily responsible for the establishment of Banyan, which grew into the first independent television programme production house in the southern Caribbean. He has committed himself to productions which feature local content and themes. His significant contribution to the audio-visual history of Trinidad and Tobago is evident and merits this award.

Environmental activist Angela Cropper will receive a DLitt from the University. Ms. Cropper will receive the award for her outstanding service to Trinidad and Tobago, the region and the world in relation to issues of the Environment and Sustainable Development. She has recently been appointed Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, a post which will allow her an even larger platform to disseminate her message of environmental conservation. She is the founder of the Cropper Foundation, a non-governmental organisation committed to sustainable development.

The noted biographer, Prof Arnold Rampersad, will receive the DLitt. Professor Rampersad is a Professor of English and the Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University. Among his many works of biography and criticism was the two-volume “Life of Langston Hughes” for which the first volume was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. His work on W. E. B. Du Bois is also highly acclaimed.  From 1991 to 1996, he held a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. His work has been credited with restoring the art of biography as a form of literary criticism. Books by Arnold Rampersad: Jackie Robinson: A Biography,  Ralph Ellison: A Biography,   The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, The Life of Langston Hughes (vol. 1), !902-1941 The Life of Langston Hughes (Vol II), 1914-1967, Richard Wright: A Collection of Critical Essays / The Art and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois, and Slavery and the Literary Imagination.

The UWI Open Campus graduation ceremony will be held in Saint Lucia on October 17th.  An LLD will be awarded to Dr. Peggy Antrobus. This dedicated social worker is well respected for her contributions to society as well as her support of the feminist ideology. She has been well recognised worldwide having received numerous international awards, including the Distinguished Service Award for the enhancement of women’s role in Caribbean societies (1990) and the UNIFEM Anniversary Award for extraordinary commitment to the world’s women (1995). Dr. Antrobus was also responsible for initiating the Women and Development Unit (WAND) at the UWI School of Continuing Studies and the Commonwealth Save the Children Fund. Her commitment to social work is evident from her membership on more than 25 advisory boards. Dr. Antrobus has also distinguished herself as an academic through her numerous academic publications. Book by Peggy Antrobus: The Global Women's Movement: Issues and Strategies for the New Century.

The man who gave Saint Lucia its greatest symbol of independence, The Honourable Dunstan St. Omer will receive a D Litt. St. Omer was the artist responsible for designing the National Flag of Saint Lucia in 1967. He is also the father of the artistic genre known as "Prismism," which evolved out of his experimentation with the cubist style. St. Omer also served as editor of the leading newspaper, The Voice of Saint Lucia, from 1959 to 1962.

His name is synonymous with art in Saint Lucia, where he is a cultural hero. He is the recipient of the national award, the Saint Lucia Cross, and a papal medal from the Roman Catholic Church for his outstanding church murals. The UK Telegraph described him as the “Michelangelo of the Caribbean,” as they showered praises on his work in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Castries. His Prometheus Mural is on an external wall of the UWI’s Open Campus Centre. St. Omer remains revered in Saint Lucia for all he has done for national identity and the fields of art and media.

Source: CaveHill

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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