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Barbados hotel 'refuses' black holidaymaker

REPORTS OF a black person being refused accommodation in a hotel for ‘whites only’ in Barbados prompted the president of the UK-based Barbados Overseas Community and Friends Association to hit out against the apparent racism on the island and The Voice to make this its front page lead story on May 14, 1983.

‘Bajan colour bar scandal’ was the headline in The Voice 35 years ago as it reported that Owen Eversley, the president of the association, was responding to the flood of letters the newspaper was receiving after it had earlier carried a letter by a white holidaymaker complaining that her black husband was refused accommodation.

The Voice quoted Eversley as follows: “After I read all the letters that had been printed I was left feeling ashamed and somewhat guilty. As president of the largest Barbadian Association in the UK, I felt that we had failed in our duty to members.”

The 20,000-strong Barbados Overseas Community and Friends Association at the time had been established for 16 years with branches in Liverpool and Manchester. The article said Mr Eversley feels that local people should put pressure on the Barbadian Government to eliminate racism, but he did admit that it was not widespread.

He said: ”It isn’t an everyday occurrence, but it happens because government ministers don’t pay enough scrutiny to who they give work permits to. There is a tiny minority, both black and white who live in the past and try to perpetuate the slave mentality.”

The Voice went on to report that it had received disturbing reports of segregated beaches and clubs which only allow a few “token blacks” to enter.

Mr Eversley summed up the situation. “Justice is not being done for the indigenous black community in Barbados. Black people overseas are working hard to create a better racial climate within their respective adopted countries, yet racism is perpetuated in our home shore. It makes a mockery of our efforts.”

The second story on the page carried the headline ‘Boy found dead in cell’ which reported that 18 year-old Matthew Paul was found hanged in a cell at Leman Street Police Station where he was being held in connection with the murder Stephen Gaspard – the headless and handless corpse – found on waste ground in east London the month before.

Paul had been arrested by the offi cer heading the murder hunt in the Gaspard case but one day later was found hanging by his own jumper behind the door of his cell. The Voice said he had frequented youth clubs in the area and a spokesperson for one of the clubs, Saxon, remembered Paul as a happy youth “who had just come back from St Lucia and was looking forward to going back there”.

The article also said the suicide is apparently the second of its kind in a Leman Street police cell, but the police declined to comment.

PAGE THREE: Youths tried to stop a National Front meeting

Over on page three, a dramatic photograph of a black demonstrator being taken away by the police was the main story with the headline ‘Front under attack’ which reported that hundreds of black and white youths tried to stop a National Front meeting in north London before the police moved in.

The trouble broke out when incensed youths pelted the NF supporters with concrete slabs and bricks as they were being escorted by the police to the meeting from Tottenham Hale tube station to High Cross School. A number of police injuries were sustained and 35 arrests were made.

Other stories on the page included news that a conference for black and ethnic minority women to discuss common problems and issues around race and gender discrimination was being organised by the Greater London Council, as well as a story that a pupil had been suspended from a Bromley school after he was caught distributing race hate leafl ets urging all black people should be repatriated back to their own countries.

The second lead on the page with the headline ‘Bill under pressure’ reported that the controversial police bill was facing more changes before it completes its passage through Parliament. Since it was fi rst introduced in November the year before, there were already 134 amendments to it. Opponents of the bill argue that it gives the police unlimited powers without adequate safeguards for the right of the ordinary individual.

Over on page five, the lead story’s headline was ‘Nightmare story of a drug woman’ which highlighted the problem being face by black and Asian women who had taken the controversial contraceptive drug Depo-Provera which generalpractitioners were now calling for a public hearing before the American manufacturer had a chance to extend its license in Britain.

The Voice article said evidence shows that the drug was poorly administered in many hospitals and clinics throughout Britain and women in hospitals are being coerced into accepting the drug without being told about the side-effects. Many had suffered from weight gain, irregular or excessive bleeding, headache, infertility and a rise in blood pressure.

REMEMBERED: Reggae legend Bob Marley featured in a special tribute on the centre pages

The centre pages were dedicated to a special tribute to reggae legend Bob Marley, two years after his death in 1981. The Voice tribute highlighted his many albums and charted his journey from Jamaica to international stardom.

The Voice is celebrating its 35th birthday this year. Share your memories, comments and birthday wishes on social media, using the hashtag #Voice35Years. Each week we will be digging into The Voice archive and publish a front cover from its first year of publication as we look back over 35 years.

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