Fri | Jan 15, 2021

DK Duncan remembered as an advocate for social and economic justice

Published:Sunday | October 25, 2020 | 3:18 PM
Beverley Duncan (right), widow of former member of parliament and former government minister, Dr DK Duncan, watches as members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, carry the photograph of Dr DK Duncan at the start of his official funeral held at the University Chapel at The University of the West Indies, Mona in St Andrew this afternoon (Ian Allen photo).

Former member of parliament and government minister, Dr Donald Keith Duncan, was, this afternoon, laid to rest during a an official funeral at the University Chapel on the Mona campus of The University of the West Indies. 

The service was attended by family and friends, as well as political colleagues, including the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Karl Samuda, who represented Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and chairman of the People's National Party (PNP), Fitz Jackson, who represented the Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips.

His son, Keith Duncan, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, memorialised his father as an  advocate for social justice- an advocacy which commenced during his studies in dentistry at McGill University in Canada, where he and his first wife, Joan, Keith's mother, met and were involved in activism together- circumstances, which Duncan revealed, would at times get them arrested. 

On his return to Jamaica, he joined the PNP, through which he continued his advocacy for social and economic justice, rising to become the party's national organiser in 1972 and later general secretary in 1974. In 1976, he was elected a member of parliament and was asked to serve as minister of mobilisation and human resources in the Michael Manley-led cabinet. He was 36 at the time. 

"During this period our father was a key figure and a driver under the leadership of Michael Manley in effecting the most game changing social reforms in Jamaica's history. Reforms included: free education up to the tertiary level; free healthcare, minimum wage and a 40-hour work week; equal pay for women and maternity leave," Duncan said. 

Despite his immersion in politics in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Duncan also remembered his father as a family man who inspired several of his children and other family members to serve in different spheres of society. He campaigned with two of his daughters who ran on PNP tickets for September 3 general elections: Patricia Duncan Sutherland, who contested Clarendon South East for the PNP and Imani Duncan Price in Kingston Central.   

"My siblings and I are very proud of my father who, through his courageous stance, actions, honesty and integrity, has made a powerful significant and lasting impact on Jamaica," Duncan concluded.  

DK Duncan died on September 17 in The University of the West Indies. He was 80 years-old.

He is also the father of Donna Duncan-Scott, Dr Josina Duncan and David Duncan.

He is survived by his wife, Beverley- broadcaster, political scientist and former Gleaner columnist. 

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