Laura Kate Trevelyan, reparatory justice advocate

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Her name will forever be remembered in the annals of our history. After all, she was the heroic lady who had the courage and strength of her conviction to venture to Grenada this past February 27, to apologise for her ancestor’s involvement in the enslavement of over one thousand (1,004) Africans on six of their estates there. And it was not merely words, she pledged to donate one hundred thousand pounds of her pension to the Caricom Reparations Commission (CRC) to jump-start a fund for reparatory justice in Grenada. Moreover, she resigned from her exalted position as a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) journalist and news anchor, after a thirty-year stint, to devote the rest of her life to the cause of reparations in the Caribbean. With great admiration and respect, we salute her. May those of like ilk increase. May her example be an inspiration to others all around the world, whose ancestors were also involved in the enslavement of Africans.

A few days after Trevelyan’s historic apology, we here at NEWSCO, the parent company of Observer Radio and The Daily Observer, (our managing Editor, Gemma Handy, a BBC contributor, to be specific) reached out with an invitation for her to appear on our VOICE OF THE PEOPLE broadcast, and without hesitation, she accepted our invite. Again, this is an indication of her unwavering commitment to the cause of repairing the generational damage caused to millions of people of African descent on account of colonialism and slavery. She indicated that our broadcast with her was the first with any media house on the fast-paced developing events since her resignation.

She is a charming, thoughtful and totally committed lady, all of fifty-four years old, who spoke movingly of being encouraged by Sir Hilary Beckles, the chairman of the CRC, to make the historic apology to the people of Grenada for the enslavement of their ancestors by hers. She revealed that it was a cathartic experience, a moment of peace brought about by the sense that she was doing the right thing, she was helping to repair the damage wrought by her ancestors. Indeed, in pledging to dedicate the rest of her life to the cause of reparatory justice, she indicated that, never mind her outstanding work as a BBC journalist, her fight for reparations for the people of Grenada and the Caribbean will be her crowning achievement.  “This is the most important work that I can do,”she shared.

In his remarks on the same broadcast, one of the vice-chairmen of the CRC, and the chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission, Ambassador Dorbrene O’Marde, saluted Laura Trevelyan for opening another front, so to speak, in the fight for reparations, and he indicated that her call for other families to do as have done the Trevelyans, was commendable. He also spoke of her call on the British government to step up and do the right thing, and of course, her apology for her family’s role.

And speaking of her role, Ambassador O’Marde indicated that he is of the mind that Laura would best be able to help the cause of reparations by focusing her advocacy in the United Kingdom and Europe. She is not averse to that idea. In fact, she is quite willing to work, in whatever arena she is called, to galvanise the growing reparatory justice sentiment.  As she quotes Sir Hilary Beckles as suggesting to her, “to be a bridge between the Caribbean and Britain.”

Laura has clearly done her homework on this matter of reparatory justice. For example, at one point in her interview, she referenced the CRC ten-point plan on reparations, specifically citing debt forgiveness, increased educational opportunities, and better health care as some of the areas where the enslavement of our ancestors have caused enormous existential problems for people of African descent, that persist to this day. She has pledged to be a force in the fight to correct these injustices.  

Interestingly, perhaps most importantly, Laura Trevelyan’s unprecedented decision to apologise for her ancestors’ sins / ”crimes against humanity,” as Ambassador O’Marde refers to their enslavement of Africans, and to work towards assisting other former slave-owning families to come to grips with their past, and do something meaningful about that dreadful legacy, will be her magnum opus. She has already spoken of the many families that have reached out to her, sharing stories of the awful burden of their ancestral legacies, and asking for guidance on how she was able to confront hers, and how they too might be able to confront theirs. She is pointing the way forward.

Whenever praise for her forthrightness and candour is poured her way, Laura demurs, saying, “The Trevelyans benefitted from the enslavement of people, so nobody should be thanking us. . . .” That may be so, but still, Franz deFreitas (co-host of VOICE OF THE PEOPLE), Gemma Handy, Ambassador Dorbrene O’Marde, and the rest of us here at NEWSCO are persuaded that what they have done is momentous, and certainly praise-worthy – an important step for one family, and a giant leap forward in the great cause of reparatory justice.

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