Trinidad and Tobago

Terry's beach banner

Black groups defy ban on Tony Martin

By Terry Joseph
November 14, 2003

TRINI Professor Tony Martin, banned last month from addressing a Black History Month conference in London by Mayor Ken Livingstone will, in two weeks' time, address the very community denied an opportunity to hear him on October 25.

Professor of Africana Studies, Wellesley College, USA and internationally acclaimed scholar and authority on the life of Marcus Garvey, Dr. Martin was invited to speak at the London conference but later "dis-invited", Mayor Livingstone's advisor on race relations, Lee Jasper, citing Dr. Martin's presence on platforms described as habouring anti-semitic sentiments.

Jasper wrote: "Having confirmed with you that you attended and spoke at David Irving's "Real History Conference" in 2001 and the Institute for Historical Review's annual conference in 2002 and that both of these conferences included speakers known for their anti-Semitic and racist activities including Holocaust denial, the Mayor's Office had decided to withdraw its invitation to you to address the First Voice conference on Saturday 25 October."

The distance between the Mayor's office and London's black community widened after a front-page article in a Jewish newspaper headlined the October 17 issue with: "Livingstone bars 'anti-Jewish' historian from conference."

The Jewish Chronicle quoted correspondence between Louise Ellman (Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside and vice-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Council against Anti Semitism) and Jasper, saying the exchange constituted the basis both for his "prompt and appropriate action" and noted Ellman's "delight at the mayor's quick move."

A furore quickly erupted worldwide.

Trinidad and Tobago's Emancipation Support Committee joined the protest, sending a scorcher of letter to Jasper, signed by chairman Khafra Kambon, expressing abhorrence at the withdrawal of the invitation to Dr. Martin, calling it an irony in Black History Month and demanding Jasper's resignation.

Hitting back at the ban, a consortium of black-oriented organizations has invited Dr. Martin to London to speak on November 30 and December 1.

Dr. Martin advised The Express that he has accepted and will, in the first assignment, talk on the Jewish Onslaught: Exposing the Jewish role in the Black Holocaust - the very topic at which Jasper and Livingstone took offence. The talk takes place at Trini's on Rye Lane in Peckham. Also on the agenda that day is a performance of the play Anansi & King Bling.

Terry's Homepage