Speaking at the Black Action Defense Committee Memorial Scholarship and Recognition Awards last Sunday
By Lincoln DePradine
Black people ought not to give up their culture for someone else’s because “culture is an instrument of power,’’ according to Jamaica-born surgeon and medical professor Dr Julius W. Garvey.
Garvey, delivering an address at a virtual event last Sunday of the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC), also underscored the importance of an African-centred education, and pointed to the link between education and culture.
“Remember, always, intelligence rules the world and ignorance carries the burden,’’ said Garvey, son of the late Afrocentric activist, human rights leader and entrepreneur, Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
“By education, we transmit culture,’’ he added. “We, Africans, have a spiritual culture and when we repair our cultural breach, we would have liberated our minds from mental slavery; restored our self-esteem and self-confidence; and opened up the infinite resources of our creative intelligence.’’
Garvey’s address formed part of a three-hour-long program marking the 2022 “Dudley Laws Memorial Scholarship and Recognition Awards’’.
It included other speakers, as well updates from BADC executive members of the work of the organization, and a variety of musical entertainment.
Jamaican-born Dudley Laws was a founder and the first executive director of BADC. The organization was founded in 1988 in response to a series of police killings of Black people dating back to the late 1970s. BADC led protest marches demanding an end to the shootings and calling for an end to the practice of “police investigating police’’ after each cop shooting.
Laws, who became one the most prominent social justice advocates in Canada, died March 24, 2011, at Humber River Regional Hospital. He was 76.
“The Black Action Defense Committee continues to be in the forefront of leading change in policing and the criminal justice system today, as it did when it was first established in 1988,’’ said Thando Hyman, who was MC for Sunday’s event.
This was the third time, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, that BADC has held the Memorial Scholarship and Recognition Awards online, instead of in-person.
“Hopefully, we can get back to doing it live next year,’’ said BADC president Hewitt Loague, who explained that the event is also a fundraiser to help finance the education of students pursuing both academic and trade careers.
“This event is to honour the memory of Mr Laws and to fulfill his dream of contributing financially towards higher education for youth and young adults in the GTA. Mr Laws,’’ said Loague, “was very passionate about young people. He was always one to say, if they can’t take higher education, then they should go for a trade. That was always his motto: education or trade for the young people.’’
Ahkeel Barrett, a student at the Africentric Alternative School in Toronto, was the recipient of this year’s bursary.
The recognition award winners were Dr Sylvanus Thompson, CEO of Dr T International Food Consulting Services; retired nurse and midwife Joyce Lennon-Ewers; and trade unionist activists and leaders Ivan Dawns and Mike Yorke.
The theme of the day’s event was, “Journey to our Full Potential’’.
Garvey, in his address, said a transformation to “African humanism’’ is needed, but it requires education.
“Africa and Africans in the Diaspora, in order to survive and prosper, must discard the current European ideologies and create a new paradigm,’’ said Garvey. “The African experience has always been a search for, and a practice of, what it means to be fully human.’’
Garvey emphasized the critical role of Black educators, saying they must “understand African history, practices, spirituality, philosophy and pedagogical theories in education and socialization to create the space to facilitate the process of human transformation and the constant pursuit of perfection necessary to develop the new African’’.
As far as culture is concerned, it is “the instrument by which we deal with reality, by which we adapt reality to ourselves’’, Garvey said.
“If we give up our culture and allow it to be replaced by somebody else’s culture, then we have given up our power to control reality and have become the servants of someone else. No tree can grow without roots. Marcus Garvey said, ‘a people without the knowledge of their past, history, origin and culture, are like a tree without roots.’’’