Richard Hart, Jamaican historian, political activist, is dead

Richard Hart, one of Jamaica's foremost leftist radicals, died on Saturday in the United Kingdom. He was 96 years old.

Rupert Lewis, retired professor of political science, in a Facebook comment on Hart's passing, recalled that he was a political activist in the Caribbean and UK, founding member of the PNP in 1938, historian, lawyer, father and husband.

"The best of Jamaican radicals to have emerged out of the turbulent 1930s. Stayed true to the cause of decolonization" Professor Lewis asserted.

A founding member of the People's National Party (PNP) in 1938, Richard Hart was one of "The four Hs" (Ken Hill, Frank Hill, Arthur Henry and Hart) expelled from the PNP, in a purge of its leftist radicals in the early 1950s.

After his expulsion, he formed the People's Freedom Movement (later renamed the Socialist Party of Jamaica). The party disbanded in 1962

Hart was also active in the early development of the Jamaican trade union movement, helping to consolidate the strength of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), particularly during the period of Sir Alexander Bustamante's incarceration. He extended his trade union activities to the wider Caribbean where he remains widely known for his contribution in this field.

Richard Hart was also a lawyer, and served as Legal Consultant and, briefly, Attorney General in the People's Revolutionary Government of Maurice Bishop before Bishop's execution and the US led invasion in 1983.

He worked closely with Cheddi Jagan in Guyana as well and there he also did extensive research on the Arawak Indians.

He lived most of his later years in the United Kingdom where he resumed his legal practice for a few years. There he also continued his research and writing.

Some of his notable books include Towards Decolonisation: Political, Labour and Economic Developments in Jamaica 1939–1945 (1999) and Slaves who Abolished Slavery: Blacks in Rebellion (2002).


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