Celebrating Black History Month

Caribbean Trailblazers

A CARIBBEAN TIMES NEWS SPECIAL

February is Black History Month and CARIBBEAN TIMES NEWS pays tribute to all of those heroes and sheroes who paved the way for this present generation and on whose backs they stand. The Caribbean Contribution to Black History is undeniable. Caribbean-Americans have made the United States their adopted homeland and have participated in every major event that has shaped and molded this great nation.

Today, we want to recognize some of our great CARIBBEAN BLACK HISTORY heroes and sheroes still alive and active. We believe that it is important to honor those who have labored and toiled in the fields of our modern progress. They are the living inspirations and legends on whose broad shoulders a modern generation of new leaders will stand.  And while there are many, many others still making important contributions the Black Liberation Movement today this very short list is in no way an attempt to minimize those contributions.

So into the CARIBBEAN BLACK HISTORY HALL OF FAME we induct:

GARFIELD ST. AUBURN SOBERS.

GARFIELD ST. AUBURN SOBERS.

Born on the 28th of July 1936 in Bay Land, St, Michael parish, Barbados he is the gold standard for all modern cricket’s all-rounders. Hailed as the “greatest all-rounder “ the game has ever seen, Sir. Gary, as he’s popularly called was a cricketing prodigy from a very young age.

He was the sixth of seven children and 6 years old Sobers lost his father a merchant seaman when Germans torpedoed his ship.
He played first-class cricket for Barbados at the age of 16, playing for Barbados against India. He played his first test match in 1954 against England in Kingston, Jamaica getting 4 wickets. He showed promise during a 1957 English Tour, but it was during the 1957-58 tour of Pakistan where he set the highest test score of the time by scoring 365 not out. However, beginning of a promising career he would struggle with the bottle for years as he admits freely in his autobiography. In 1959, his close friend O.G. “Collie” Smith died after sustaining injuries in an automobile accident with Sobers at the wheel. 
Sobers then joined the Lancashire League, playing for Nottinghamshire where he became a very dangerous medium pace bowler. He then bowled for South Australia setting records and completing an unprecedented feat during his first season with a double; 1000 runs and 50 wickets twice in an Australian season. Something, that to date no one has accomplished.

He went on to captain the West Indies team in 39 Tests between 1965 and 1972. Sobers, also was also an avid basketball player, hurt his left knee playing goalkeeper for Barbados. After 20 years of playing cricket he retired in 1974, he held the record for the most runs in a test career at that time. 

 

In 1974 he was also knighted by the Queen Elizabeth II and became Sir Garfield Sobers. He married Prudence Kirby an Australian in 1969 (divorced in 1985) and moved to Australia with her for seven years until deciding to return to Barbados in 1985. He and his wife have two sons Matthew and Daniel and a daughter, Genevieve. In 1998, Sir Garfield Sobers was declared a national hero of Barbados. He is now an international golfer.

GRACE JONES

Grace Jones

This Caribbean trailblazer is a one of a kind. She is an exotic and controversial star of film and music. She one of the pioneering Black women in BOTH fashion and film and today remains a national treasure.  Fifty-two year old Grace Jones was born Grace Mendoza in Spanish Town Jamaica her father was a preacher. Her family moved to Syracuse New York when Grace was still a child. In her early twenties she signed up for the Whilamina Modeling Agency in New York. Her exotic looks and height quickly made her one of the most sought after models in the World and she began a jet setting lifestyle that often took her to Europe. Her partying became legendary. In 1977 a record label signed her to first record “Portfolio”.

The album sold fairly well however Grace became especially popular with gay men, and the hit single from the album “I Need A Man” became a 70’s anthem. Another hit from the album the cover “La Vie en Rose” is still remembered even today as one of the best versions of the song, as well as one of the highlights of Grace’s musical career.

Other albums would follow however during the 80’s she shifted her focus to film appearing in Conan the Destroyer. She would later appear in Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang and was even bestowed the part of a Bond Girl in the James Bond “007 Series”  “A view to a kill”. Her wild stage antics were legendary; she would appear on stage with male strippers, and outrageous outfits. Her biggest success as a recording star was her release “Slave to the Rhythm”, her singles “pull up to the bumper” and “my Jamaican Guy” were also popular. An addiction to cocaine, led to an arrest in Jamaica for drug possession, however she managed to pull herself together and is still releasing records while raising her son Apollo.

LEWIS HAMILTON

Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton

Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton was born on January 7, 1985 in England. He is one of the most successful and popular Formula One racing drivers in the world and the only Black one at that level of the international sport. He is currently racing for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team. A five-time World Champion, he is often regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers in history.

Hamilton won the British Formula Renault, Formula Three Euroseries, and GP2 championships as his racing career advanced. He became an F1 driver for McLaren-Mercedes in 2007, making his Formula One debut (first race) 12 years after his first meeting with Ron Dennis. Hamilton comes from a mixed-race background, with a black father and white mother. He is often labeled “the first black driver in Formula One. In his first season in Formula One, Hamilton set many racing records. He finished second in the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship, just one point behind Kimi Räikkönen. He won his first World Championship the next season by one point ahead of Felipe Massa, overtaking Timo Glock on the final lap in Brazil. He signed for Mercedes at the end of 2012 to race for them in the 2013 season. Hamilton has gone on to win three more World Championships, all with the Mercedes team, becoming the most successful British driver in Formula One history.

Hamilton was named after American sprinter Carl Lewis. His mother, Carmen Larbalestier (now Carmen Lockhart) is British. His father’s parents emigrated from Grenada to the United Kingdom in the 1950s. He’s proudly embraced his Grenadian heritage and can be seen wearing a Grenada flag on many public occasions.

CARIBBEAN TIMES NEWS wants to acknowledge all of the trailblazers both in the region and the Caribbean Diaspora not mentioned above but whose contributions have advanced the cause of Black and Caribbean History.

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