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Remembering the “Black Belizean Revolution” of 1919

Remembering the “Black Belizean Revolution” of 1919

Posted: Saturday, July 24, 2021. 12:57 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: This week 102 years ago, volunteer soldiers returning from the First World War, joined by townspeople, broke into and looted major stores in the commercial district of Belize City in what came to be known as the “Ex-Servicemen’s Riot.”

Activists from the UBAD Educational Foundation (the UEF), the Image Factory Art Foundation, and others prefer to see it as a revolution, a visceral reaction to the blatant racism they suffered while fighting for the British Empire in the war, continued at home.

UEF chair Yaya Marin Coleman recounted from Delmer Tzib’s history of the revolution that servicemen lived in unsanitary quarters, received untimely treatment for their injuries, and were generally sidelined. Their fellows at home were suffering from a rise in the cost of living, casual oppression and conditions not dissimilar to present times.

Ultimately, the rebellion was put down, but it gave birth to the Marcus Garvey movement led by Samuel Haynes, Antonio Soberanis’ Labour and Unemployed Association in the 1930s, and ultimately the nationalist movement of the People’s Committee, later People’s United Party, and the likes of George Price and John Smith among others.

To commemorate this important moment in Belize’s pre-Independence history, students and parents from Saint John’s College High School have created art and memorabilia of important black protesters who agitated against racism in their time.

Photo credit: https://1919revolution.weebly.com/


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