Our community is saddened by the passing of Dame Jocelyn Barrow a Stalwart, Activist, Pioneer and Campaigner. Words alone cannot convey the appreciation that I have for the tremendous impact that she has had on me. Dame Barrow laid the cornerstone for my journey into activism.
Six months ago there were about 150 of her friends, colleagues, fellow campaigners, and family celebrating the 90th birthday of this phenomenal woman. There was a packed hall at the South Africa House, where she made a grand entrance and wow, what a picture of elegance, beauty, and joy she was.
It was clear to see that she was delighted to be surrounded by so many people, all there because of her, all there to help her celebrate a milestone birthday. She was in full form sharing stories of her childhood in Trinidad and what it was like being the eldest of 14 siblings, about the many challenges she faced as a black woman, about campaigns she fought, and about her life in general. She amused us with jokes, she sang along to the musicians, and she posed for an endless stream of photos and selfies. It was hard to think of her as being 90 years old. She was such a trooper!
One of Dame Barrow’s finest work achievements was being the first Black Female Governor of the BBC and the founder of the Broadcasting Standards Council. But she was also General Secretary of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, Governor of the Commonwealth Institute, and Vice-President of the United Nations Association (UK and Ireland). Dame Barrow put herself out there. She devoted her entire life to unselfishly campaigning for equality of everyone’s civil rights and even sought counsel from Dr Martin Luther King in her quest for racial equality.
She was a fighter, a powerhouse with a fortitude of courage and determination to battle against systems of oppression. She was relentless in what she did and was not afraid to challenge those who got in the way of her advocacy against Employment, Housing, Health, Race and Gender inequalities.
Hers was a life well lived.
Dame Jocelyn Barrow a national icon and pillar of the black community is now with the ancestors.