PuLSE Institute names its 2021 Online Lecture Series on Caribbean Influence on American Politics after The UWI’s Professor Rupert Lewis

The PuLSE Institute has announced its naming of a major online lecture series on the contributions of the Caribbean world to US politics after Professor Rupert Lewis. Currently Research Fellow at the PJ Patterson Centre for Africa-Caribbean Advocacy at The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Lewis is also a professor emeritus of political thought at The UWI Mona Campus’ Department of Government. He has lectured in political science, political thought and Caribbean, African and global politics for the past forty years.

The virtual innovative speaker programme, Rupert Lewis Caribbean Influence on America and the World: Reparatory Justice and Anti-Poverty Policy Lecture Series, will feature some of the most important voices in the Caribbean region whose work and research deals with issues of economic justice including reparations. Lewis has also been named to the Institute’s National Advisory Panel made up of some of the foremost thinkers and leaders in civil rights and policy in the world today.

The lecture series will explore the significant ties between the United States and the Caribbean, a region that has had a prominent presence on Black political life in America. For example, children of Caribbean parents, have long shaped US politics and have been a force in the Civil Rights Movement as well as in the entire sphere of influence in national politics. Among them is the elder statesman of the Civil Rights Movement Harry Belafonte (Jamaica), Black activist and philosopher Stokeley Carmichael (Trinidad), civil rights leader Malcolm X (Grenada) Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African American to run for president (Barbados), Eric Holder, the first Black Attorney General. 

Responding to the announcement, Professor Lewis said, “I am honoured that The PuLSE Institute, located in Detroit in the heart of America’s largest Black city, has announced this lecture series, which will allow the recovery of the rich legacies of multi-generational struggles for economic, social, cultural and racial justice. It will also facilitate the elaboration and advocacy of policies directed at achieving these goals. As a consequence of slavery and colonialism, 12-15 million enslaved Africans, indentured labourers from India, and indigenous peoples, have contributed significantly to the wealth of the Western world.  Haiti, Jamaica and Barbados were among the Caribbean islands that produced the wealthiest planters in the world whose investments built universities, financial houses and industries in the United States and Europe. Kamala Harris’ attainment of the post of Vice-President of the United States, in the Joe Biden administration, is a signal moment for women, African-American women in particular, and for her ancestral communities in Jamaica and India. The lecture series will tell the stories of these struggles in which Caribbean communities and personalities, together with African Americans, and their allies have battled for social, racial and economic justice. The lecture series will also highlight the policy directions necessary to achieving our objectives. The lecture series will also chronicle the seminal contributions that Caribbean descendants have made to music, literature, the arts, sciences, politics and entrepreneurship in the United States.” 

According to Tina M. Patterson, Esq. President and Director of Research, The PuLSE Institute, “Professor Lewis brings decades of scholarship and activism to the subject matter that will be the focus of this lecture series. It is important for us to understand that the quest for racial parity is a centuries-long battle that persists in present day American life and around the world,” Patterson said. “Yet as we celebrate the historical election of Senator Kamala Harris of Jamaican descent as the first Black woman Vice President-elect, the highest elected political office of any Black woman in the nation, we cannot ignore that the true pursuit of equality is incomplete without reparative justice. This contentious but necessary debate has found its way into American politics, but no region has paved the way forward in this essential topic than the Caribbean. As such, The PuLSE Institute is proud to introduce this lecture series and name it after a scholarly giant like Professor Rupert Lewis in order to uplift the ground-breaking work of reparatory justice from the Caribbean.” 

Bankole Thompson, The PuLSE Institute’s Editor-in-Chief and Dean of Academy of Fellows, stated further, “this series named after Professor Rupert Lewis, a first-rate academic of the Caribbean world will provide an ongoing introspection and valuable insight about work that is being done at the scholarly, activist and policy levels of the international debate about reparative justice and anti-poverty policies. As we prepare to enter the Biden/Harris dispensation, we must strategically engage the issues of the disenfranchised and dispossessed that are the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has become a compelling global statement for equality and redemptive justice.” 

Professor Lewis’ recent keynote at The PuLSE Institute Literary Circle National Forum is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUn3PSLN_ck&t=2838sThe forum attracted an international audience of leading academics, activists, policy makers and heads of major agencies and organisations in the US and the Caribbean.