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Beckles’ day!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Mayor of the City of Hartford in Connecticut, Luke Bronin declared last Thursday, March 2, 2017 “Sir Hilary Beckles Day”.

His proclamation followed a series of public engagements in the city by the University of the West Indies Vice-Chancellor.

In reference to the honour, Mayor Bronin described Beckles’ “global service in the cause of social justice, peace, and sustainable development”. Earlier in the week, Beckles received the prestigious Amistad Award from Central Connecticut State University. The presentation was made by president of the university, Dr Zulma Toro, who spoke of the role Vice-Chancellor Beckles has played in international university leadership and in particular, public education in the Caribbean.

The award states: “The Amistad Award is conferred in recognition of his outstanding contributions to historical knowledge and the struggle for human rights and social justice.”

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The honour is named for the the slave ship “Amistad” which arrived arrived in the USA in 1839 with 53 Africans. With the help of anti-slavery activists, and the legal advocacy of former US president John Quincy Adams, the captives were able to litigate to gain their freedom. A federal judge in the state of Connecticut ruled that they were illegally taken to the country and had a right to rebel against their captors. The trial of the Amistad 53 became the most famous law case in American history. The state, and its university, mark the historic moment and honour the men and women aboard the Amistad for the tenacity and courage in gaining their freedom.

Professor Beckles is an economic historian who was installed as the eighth vice-chancellor of The UWI in May 2015. Before assuming that office he was principal and pro vice-chancellor of the university’s Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, a post he held for 13 years. Sir Hilary is a distinguished university administrator, and transformational leader in higher education.

In accepting the award, Beckles thanked President Toro and the Amistad Committee for their collegial generosity and pledged his continued support for global civil rights and the quest for greater human dignity in the face of the corrosive challenges of everyday life.

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