The following article is from the April 2011 Newsletter of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York. You can download the Newsletter here:
GCA to pay tribute to ten Guyanese Women of Courage and Vision
By: Edgar Henry
On Mothers day Sunday May 8, 2011, all roads lead to St. Stephen’s Auditorium, 2806 Newkirk Avenue. New York.
An exciting evening awaits you as the Guyana Cultural Association of NY, for the first time in its ten year history will recognize and pay compliment to ten outstanding Guyanese women of distinction at a planned Dinner Theatre.
This affair will promote and celebrate Guyanese women of courage and vision and will shower accolades on their work, energy and spirit. Oft times in our communities we have unsung heroes that are not fully recognized despite their efforts, yeoman service and invaluable contribution to our diverse societies.
In the archives of Guyana, it is well known that it was indeed Guyanese women of Buxton (with a few men) who ‘Stopped the Train’ on the East Coast of Demerara in order to gain attention from the authorities in order for their needs to be satisfied. This legend goes back to 1862 when villagers, arming themselves with cutlasses, axes, sticks and other implements, laid wait along the railway line to intercept a locomotive train carrying the Governor, whose audience they fiercely sought.
It was the last resort in a series of efforts by them to secure the abolishment of a repressive tax that was imposed on the properties of several villagers. As the train approached the village, several women and a few men formed themselves into a human shield, forcing the driver to bring the train to an immediate halt. The protestors then proceeded to immobilize the engine by applying chains and locks to its wheels. This forced the Governor to step out and meet with villagers. After listening to their complaint, he reportedly decided to rescind the burdensome tax. Ever since, Buxtonian women have earned the reputation as a people of unequalled courage. They succeeded.
This Herculean task by those Buxton women is tantamount to the brave attempt of Rosa Parks – The woman who changed the world and a nation – She was simply tired and weary from a long day of work when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger on December 1, 1955. This incident sparked off the modern civil rights movement in the United States. Rosa Parks’s arrest for
breaking Montgomery segregation laws started a boycott of the city bus line that lasted 381 days. This eventually led to the 1956 Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation illegal on public buses. Rosa was considered “The Mother of the Modern-day Civil Rights Movement,” She succeeded.
Guyanese women too, over the years have traveled near and far and took with them that unique discipline, mantle, education, commitment and courage to new dimensions regardless of the odds they encountered. The struggles and disappointments along the way only made them stronger and more focused coupled with their God fearing stamina, drive and determination.
On Mothers Day GCA will recognize ten of these valiant and heroic women who weathered the storms of life to successfully accomplish their objectives. After an exciting nomination process, these are the honorees selected:-
- Pat Jordan-Langford
- Lorna Welshman-Neblett
- Joyce Chase
- Rosalind October
- Pamela McKenzie
- Mildred Joyce Forde
- Norma Clarke
- Rev. Evelyn John
- Shanie Persaud
- Pauline Bishop
This event is yet another of the new directions GCA is pursuing with its new mandate. This function will venture into the more classical genre of entertainment in dance, piano, trombone and saxophone renditions and with a special guest artiste to thrill every nerve of your body.
Included in the lineup will be a video presentation of the late legendary broadcaster from the “Radio Demerara Children’s Needy Fund” fame, philanthropist Dame Olga Lopes-Seale (Aunty Olga) who recently passed at the tender age of 93 on February 4th this year.
The program will be adorned with surprises and other exciting activities, including a raffle and a private auction. We guarantee that this Mother’s Day will indeed be special in every form of the word and one that will be remembered in time to come.
It is advised that you secure your tickets early for this extraordinary Mother’s Day Dinner Theatre