If you live in the United States then you know (or should know) that February is Black History month. All throughout the month there are events, performances and reminders of the contributions that African Americans have made in society. So with that in my mind I started to wonder about black history in St. Lucia. I wanted to know: Who are some of the great black leaders from St. Lucia? How have they contributed to society as we know it today? Read on to see what I found out.
Did you know that St. Lucia is the birthplace of two Nobel Laureates?
Yes, that’s right there are two St. Lucian Nobel Laureates! Sir William Arthur Lewis received the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979. The Hon. Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 as well as the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2011 for White Egrets.
Get to know Sir William Arthur Lewis
Sir William Arthur Lewis was born in St. Lucia in 1915. He earned a B.Sc. degree and Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in 1940. Sir Arthur lectured at the University of Manchester from 1948 until 1957. In 1957 he became the country of Ghana’s first economic advisor. Sir Arthur was knighted in 1963 and became a professor at Princeton University in the same year. History was made in 1979 when Sir Arthur was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. He was awarded this based on his research regarding the economic problems of developing countries. Sir Arthur’s most notable works are an economics article, “Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour” published in 1954 and “The Theory of Economic Growth” published in 1955. Sir Arthur is also known for helping to establish the University of the West Indies as well as the Caribbean Development Bank, where he served as its first President until 1973. Sir William Arthur Lewis died in 1991 and his remains were buried on the grounds of the St. Lucian community college named in his honor.
Get to know Derek Walcott
Honorable Derek Alton Walcott was born in St. Lucia in 1930. Coincidentally both he and Sir Arthur were born on January 23rd. Walcott trained as a painter and a writer from a very young age. At the age of 14 he published his first poem. At the age of 19 he self published and distributed his first two collections. In 1945 he received a scholarship to study at the University of the West Indies where he earned a B.A. degree. Derek Walcott eventually moved to Trinidad where he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. At the theater he was able to produce several of his plays such as The Joker of Seville, Henri Christophe, and Dream on Monkey Mountain. In 1990 Walcott published the epic poem Omeros. It was this poem that led to him receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Throughout his life Derek Walcott has received numerous honors and awards, and the most recent award given in 2011 was the T.S. Eliot Prize for White Egrets a collection of poems. Derek Walcott currently teaches part-time at Boston University and maintains a home in St. Lucia.
One of my favorite Derek Walcott poems is “Love After Love”.
As you can see from the example of these two men, St. Lucia has not only contributed the great beauty of its land and loving spirit of its people into this world but also great talent and intellect as well. Wow! Two St. Lucian Nobel Laureates is a great accomplishment for such a small island. Everyone should aspire to become as talented, insightful, and make even greater contributions into the world as these two men have. I truly appreciate the contributions of these two great black leaders.
What do you appreciate about St. Lucia? Please leave a comment below and let me know!