'Cat' Coore pounces into dreadlocks in schools debate

'Cat' Coore pounces into dreadlocks in schools debate

Guitarist points to Kingston Cricket Club's openness

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Sunday Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 09, 2020

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RASTA was a bad word in Jamaica when David Coore first took his three sons to watch cricket matches at Sabina Park in the early 1960s.

Coore was a respected lawyer who helped draft Jamaica's Constitution in 1962 and a member of Kingston Cricket Club which owned that venue.

Stephen, the youngest of his sons, became a Rastafarian in the early 1970s, a period of social upheaval in Jamaica. His father was deputy prime minister at the time and Member of Parliament.

Popularly known as “Cat”, Stephen Coore became world-famous as a guitarist with Third World band. When in Jamaica, he found time to attend cricket matches at Sabina Park, but watched from the stands.

He decided to apply for membership in 1988 by when discrimination against Rastafarians had eased considerably in Jamaica. In fact, he was the second “Ras” who successfully applied.

“When I put in my application for Kingston Cricket Club it just happened that I had a stud membership through my dad. My dad had taken us to cricket when we were young and he had a stud membership for all his sons — Michael, Ivan, and Stephen,” Coore explained. “Due to that, all I needed was two signatures from two members and I was good to go.”

The two members who vouched for Coore were Maurice Foster and Jeffrey Dujon, who played for Kingston Cricket Club in the domestic Senior Cup, as well as for Jamaica and the West Indies.

Founded in 1863, Kingston Cricket Club was for a long time a bastion of British colonialism in Jamaica. Its membership was distinctly high-brown, even into the 1990s.

Coore, who retains membership there, believes the openness conservative Kingston Cricket Club showed should be practised in schools such as Kensington Primary which objected to the seven-year-old daughter of Sherine and Dale Virgo attending classes because of her dreadlocked hairstyle.

“That thing is flawed in a lot of ways. It [dreadlocks] is a part of us...It's a part of what we gave to the world. Di youths dem mus' wear dem hair as dem wish,” he said.

Justice Sonia Bertram Linton, one of three Supreme Court judges who oversaw the Virgo case, said the matter was not about a violation of rights based on religion but upholding Kensington Primary's rule of “no braids, no beads, no locks”.

“There is no dispute that the school established this policy, not as a way to maintain discipline and order in the school, but as a preventative measure in the case of an outbreak of 'lice' and 'junjo'. It is clear from the evidence that the school had sanctioned this policy on the basis of its own experiences with unhygienic students in the past,” Justice Bertram Linton said in the 60-page summation.


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