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Traveling & Thinking out Loud: Highlighting a Week in the Life of the People’s Pastor

Oct. 15- Sunday- Early morning basketball I left early and Minister Gregory, my nephew took over. There was confusion on whether the repair to the floor had been done. Then at 8:45am we did the morning prayer. I am so pleased that this prayer is still going on. It started with covid when we could no longer meet in the gym for the basketball game and camaraderie. We organized the 8:45am prayer to sustain the prayer time and to stay in contact with the fellas. So when covid had been substantially reduced we were allowed to go back in the gym. But we continued the 8:45am prayer. You are free to join us at our prayer time phone numbers. 716-427-1168 passcode: 604309# the same number is used for our morning prayer Mon-Fri 7-8am and our Timbuktu Learning Center Health Night on Thursdays 7pm

Jersey City Sunday Service was in-person.

Oct. 16- Monday - Packing in Preparation for the trip to Grenada. I made a lot of important phone calls and had to take care of important business. Can you imagine the excitement that I was feeling going back to Grenada after 40 years and for the Inaugural National Holiday honoring Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and the 18 comrades that were assassinated with him.

Oct. 17- Tuesday - Departed for Grenada from JFK at 11am and we landed around 3:45 pm. During the four and a half hours I had many thoughts swirl through my mind. As I have stated I have not been to Grenada in over 40 years. After the assassination of Maurice Bishop and the comrades, Grenada was not a desirable place to be. I didn’t know the leadership over the years and I didn’t pay attention to the developments they had. Hence, my thoughts turned to the relationship and the visits that I had before the assassination. The last visit was when I organized a Congressional delegations to meet with Maurice Bishop and his administration in Grenada.

Earlier, Mr. Bishop had called me with concern for U.S. military invading Grenada and asked my assistance. I traveled up and down the USA, as I had done informing the people of the revolution in Grenada had brought Maurice Bishop and the New Jewel Movement into power in 1979. We did succeed in delaying the military invasion. But when Bishop and others were assassinated, the invasion occured.

President Reagan said that the reason was the threat of danger to the American students, which was not true at all. The Reagan administration hated and feared the Grenadian revolution.

Bishop and members of his administration had relationships with Prime Minister Fidel Castro, Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica and Prime Minister Ortega of Nicaragua. They were all socialists or socialist-leaning with good relationships with other socialist countries ie. Russia and China. President Reagan was looking for a pretext upon which to remove Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. First, he tried to use the airport. Bishop had made plans to complete the International Airport that had been in the planning for years long before Bishop became Prime Minister. I remember the long talks that I had with Bernard Coard (Deputy Prime Minister) and who was one of the leaders in the assassination of Bishop. I still have problems believing that Coard was apart of the attempted coupe. He was so convincing in his expression of love and friendship for Bishop and how they had studied together the Civil Rights Movement in America. And that was months before the assassination occurred.

I remember the first anniversary and the huge Black United Front banner that was put on the large stadium sign. It was huge! I remember my children and the youth of the church led at that time by Council member Charles Barron coming back home excited that they had met Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. He had taken the time from the important events at stake to spend an hour with the young people.

I wondered how I would feel being back in Grenada…

Oct. 18- Wednesday - It was a beautiful morning as were all the mornings of our stay in Grenada. We were in a spacious hotel right on the beach. Minister Lorenzo Daughtry-Chambers, my grandson and the 6th generation of Ministers in our family, who had accompanied me the rest of the way. I was proud and thankful that he had decided to make the trip. To have one who is competent, completely trustworthy, sensitive and share your world view and knowledge with regard to the issues in the country accompanying you is PRICELESS!

A quick light breakfast with fruit, and my own super salad consisting of herbs, flaxseeds, chia seeds, turmeric powder mixed in olive oil on multigrain toast. It was a buffet spread out with all kinds of food. But I stayed with my program.

So the first order of business was a press conference with our delegation. We had a briefing for what we would be doing led by Dr. Ron Daniels and nuances of interaction with individuals and ceremonies. I think that most of the delegation had had international travel experiences and top level meetings with international countries and organizations.

Delegation Group

Dr. Ron Daniels, IBW

Don Rojas, Director of Communications, IBW

David Abdullah, Third Party leader from Trinidad

Dr. James Early

Dr. Claire Nelson

Herb Boyd, journalist and author

Rev. Herbert Daughtry

Lorenzo Daughtry-Chambers

Dr. Daniels and Rojas made a statement and each of us offered our presentations. I recounted my friendship with Bishop and reiterated my reflection that I had on the plane. I added however my friendship with Jackie Cleft. I had a photo of my embracing Jackie as she extolled the progress of the educational system. I exclaimed, “Wonderful! Y’all are really doing it up.” She too was among those who were assassinated she was one of Bishops’ lady friend. Also I had the photo of our award given to Bishop’s mother when I chaired the National Black United Front.

After the press conference, several hours later, we met with the Cuban Ambassador. From the hotel to the Ambassador’s office was about twenty minutes. We traveled upward along narrow roads. But all along the way I was lost in the scenic beauty of the Grenada.

If you love high mountains, clear blue sea, flowers and greenery; if you love narrow streets, and traditional houses then Grenada is the country for you. The Ambassadors office and what appeared to be residence was set up on the structured side of the mountains looking across the countryside, and enthralling beauty for the eyes. The Ambassador was very friendly.

Dr. Carol McIntosh a Grenadian who is a member of our church who has been head of the hospitals but now back in the states had setup a meeting with the group with the Ambassador.

At some point the delegation made an appointment. We did the usual, we went around the room and introduced. I expressed my gratitude on behalf of the NBUF and the people of African Ancestry for the agreement with Cuban leadership. There were two requests that we made in 1982/3 and I as the Chair of NBUF would organize conferences in Cuba. We requested that there be a National holiday for an American leaders and medical scholarships. They agreed to both of these proposals and I am told that the scholarship program is still going on.

One other matter that I discussed with the Ambassador more for humor than serious business. It was when we were last in Cuba, we went to a festival. There was singing and dancing, it was a fun time. Then one of the dancers came out with a huge snake and I knew she was going to where I was seated and dance around with this huge reptile. I braced myself to act bravely, not to be afraid but look it in the eyes.

I had brought along photos of the occasion and anyone could take a look, but we did not get the humor as I anticipated. Maybe the size of the snake must have made the delegation uncomfortable.

Children of Grenada

Oct. 17-20, 23 we remembered Prime Minister Maurice Bishop of Grenada who was assassinated 40 years ago on 10/19/23. On Wed. 10/18 , after meeting with Cuban Ambassador earlier in the day, we met with the children.

Oct. 19- Thursday- The actual day of the assassination! I awakened with the death of Maurice Bishop on my mind. I had mixed feelings as I looked forward to the day and yet reluctance to face the horrible of the day. The program for the day was first the Ecumenical Service at The National Stadium, after which was a Wreath Laying, which to me was the most painful, traumatic experience and then in the evening a Candlelight Tribute. It was a long day, but after all, this was the first National Holiday since Bishop and the comrades had been assassinated. Other administrations could have done the same thing, but they chose not to. There had been at least two administrations since the assassinations but, to repeat, none thought it worthy to institute a National holiday. The eternal credit goes to Prime Minister Dickon A.T. Mitchell for making it happen. Now there will be an Annual National Holiday!

Returning to the hotel after breakfast, and it always seemed like we were on the run before the call to attend the business at hand.

Again, the long twisting, turning ascending travel through the narrow streets of Grenada. We reached the huge stadium and were gathered in a room for VIPs. There was a light refreshments prepared. Most of the participants in the ceremony were in the room getting a chance to meet and greet. We were guided to our special seats, Dr. Ron Daniels and Don Rojas, who before Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was our Director of Communications when I chaired the BUF/NBUF. They were apart of the ceremony. There were speeches by the Prime Minister Bishop’s wife and other dignitaries. There were cultural presentations and even short segment of a play that had been written capturing the day of the assassination.

When I sat in the VIP section of the stadium, I remembered the first anniversary of the revolution back in March 1979. I do not think it was the same stadium. How proud and happy and pleased I was enjoying the Celebration. This ceremony had none of the joy, happiness, and feeling of accomplishment that we had 40 years before. But I was proud to have known Bishop and having been apart of the Grenadian Revolution we adopted the slogan, “Forward Ever, Backward Never!” We had learned from the Grenadian Revolution.

After the ceremony it was the Wreath Laying at the site of the assassination. This was the saddest moment of all. We went forth to where it took place. It was an eerie feeling as we surveyed the surroundings. The part of the old fort that we were in were made of stone that had since crumbled to the ground. Part of the wall was torn down, windows were broken, the entire place had dilapidated, debris scattered everywhere. But the wall where Bishop and the comrades stood and was mulled down with philasaud of bullets was still there. The marks of the bullets entrance in the walls were marked off with little flags. It was a steep climb up narrow steps to where would place the wreath, the actual site where they had been staying. A heavy silence as each one move forward with a wreath and stood transfixed against the wall. In the silence, You could hear the wind seemingly playing a sad melancholy melody.

I was asked to make remarks. Again, I rehearsed my friendship with Maurice Bishop and members of the movement:

You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream!

You can kill the revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution!

The spirit of Maurice Bishop will live on forever.

I quoted Marcus Garvey, another son of Caribbean heritage said, “look for me in the whirlwind.”

We will look for Bishop in the whirlwind of revolutions across the world.

We will look for Bishop where children play or study.

We will look for Bishop wherever people are impoverished and look for their rights.

We will look for Bishop and you’ll hear him say, “Forward Ever Backward Never.”

After the remarks we moved to the actual wall. People stood lost in their own thoughts. And some reached out to touch it as if to embrace the very site. Along the wall my grandson Minister Lorenzo pointed out there were little flags in the wall where the bullet holes had gone. Some of the bullets obviously went through the bodies of the 19 persons assassinated there. Riding back to the hotel seems longer than before and surely the quietness pervaded our suv.

After again a quick bite we were back on the road again to a Candlelight Vigil.

Herb Boyd, columnist for the Amsterdam News and Member of the Delegation captures the Candlelight Vigil. He says, "But they may have been surpassed by the beams of the nineteen spotlights that lit up the night sky on St. George’s waterfront. A beam illuminated the sky above the hundreds gathered there, many of them hoisting their flaming candles or contributing their bright cell phones to the memory of Bishop and the fallen martyrs. The beams blended and embellished the moonlight and a blinking, circling drone that documented the scene."

Again I made remarks really repeating what I already said. But this time my shouts of “Forward Ever, Backward Never” was met with a louder response. The candlelight vigil was among the masses of people therefore more emotional expressions. I felt very much at home. In fact I went among the people shaking hands and embracing. The silence was deeper than before when we returned to the hotel.

October 20 - Friday

We had a 9am meeting with Prime Minister. Once more up the winding roads until we reached the office of the Prime Minister. He was prompt, and his decorum bespoke strength and courage. He was surprisingly youthful looking. Dr. Ron as usual laid out IBW’s agenda. We all introduced ourselves. I brought along some of my soon to be released publication, The Passing of Giants of the Human Spirit. The Prime Minister, when he came into the room took the head seat at the table. I offered him the book that I had dedicated to Prime Minister Bishop, Carol McIntosh and the Grenadian people. He graciously came from the head of the table to where I was seated and received the volume and I was very grateful. When the meeting was over, we did a group photo.

It was my wife Dr. Karen Daughtry’s birthday and it was our travel day from Grenada. It was time to leave Grenada and the memories will be with me forever. Our departure flight was scheduled for 5pm. Riding to the flight with us were Herb Boyd, and Milton Alimonta.

As the big bird flew through the night I kept thinking of the influence of Grenada and all that I recorded and so much more which I have not recorded.

October 21st Saturday

Sister Gwen Wilson

On Sat. 10/22/23 we gathered at the Alonzo Daughtry (my father) Memorial Day Care Center to remember and honor Sister Gwen Wilson who served as Chairperson of the Board of Directors for forty three years and member of the House of the Lord Church for fifty years.

Rev. Dr. Karen S. Daughtry, Executive Director, conceive the idea, that given Sister Gwen many years of dedicated service she should be honored with the Multi Purpose Room be given her name.

October 22nd Sunday

Jersey City Sunday service

On Sun. 10/22/23 we, Sheryl Mayes, Genell Leak, and members of our Church The House of the Lord in Jersey City, participated in a March and Rally for Andrew Washington. Andrew was killed by the police. He had mental challenges. The family called the medical people for help. The police came. While the family stood outside, pleading to came in and talk to Andrew, the police shot to death. Similar to the case in Englewood N.J. with Bernard Placide.

The event was organized by the family on Andrew, Toni Irwin and Denise and Black Panther Party.

After a long March, starting and stopping at police precincts, it ended in Lincoln Park. The family plan to continue the fight for Justice for Andrew.


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