National Heroes: Samuel Jackman Prescod

Born to a free coloured woman and a wealthy white father, Samuel Jackman Prescod grew up with white skin, a good education but the law forbade him from doing what white people could do because he was of coloured descent. He began his political work in 1829 and fought for the rights of coloured people to vote. At the time, to vote you needed to be white, own ten acres of land and be Christian. The Barbados Parliament’s museum has a dedicated space to Samuel Jackman Prescod and the piece of art that was made in his honour is an X to represent the huge changes he made to coloured voting rights.

A controversial journalist, Samuel Jackman Prescod expressed himself loud and clear in his articles standing up for the rights of coloured people. Despite his white complexion and his journalistic credentials he was still thrown out of the Barbados House of Representatives and couldn’t observe the political process as any other citizen could.

On 6 June 1843, Prescod was one of two people elected from the new constituency of Bridgetown. This was particularly difficult, as not only had he to overcome the prejudices, he had to work especially hard since it was only people who owned land who could vote. Prescod was always in opposition to the government, but he worked with others to create the Liberal Party. He was particularly noted for his work in creating educational facilities for the children of ex-slaves. This was not just primary and secondary education, but tertiary too, so it is appropriate that a polytechnic for islanders is named after him.

Prescod died in 1871 at the age of 65 and was buried at St. Mary’s Church in Bridgetown.

Barbados Parliament Museum, Bridgetown
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