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Works of the radical Hart to be published

Published:Sunday | April 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Richard Hart, founding member of the PNP. - File

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

The work of Richard Hart, the firebrand who was expelled from the People's National Party (PNP) in 1952 for his Marxist views, will be revisited in a book scheduled for release in early 2011.

The book, to be distributed by Ian Randle Publishers, is a collection of papers and interviews conducted by Hart. They are being edited by Professor Rupert Lewis, a lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies.

In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, Lewis described Hart as one of the most important figures in the 20th century Caribbean.

"He was involved in the trade union movement throughout the Caribbean, was an ally of (president) Cheddi Jagan in Guyana and was attorney general under (prime minister) Maurice Bishop in Grenada," Lewis said.

"Richard Hart is really a pioneer in securing Caribbean unity."

Left wing views

Hart is best known in Jamaica as one of the Four Hs who were dismissed 58 years ago by the party for their left wing views. The other members were brothers Frank and Ken Hill, and Arthur Henry.

Though he went on to an admirable career as a lawyer, trade unionist and journalist, Hart's fall-out with the PNP overshadowed his accomplishments.

But Lewis believes even that split was a turning point for (PNP president) Norman Manley's party.

"That was a decisive moment for the PNP because they became politically electable," Lewis said.

Richard Hart is a member of the Hart family, an established name in Jamaican commerce. He was an unapologetic Marxist who supported the Caribbean Federation which crashed in 1962. After his expulsion from the PNP, Hart formed the People's Freedom Movement (later the Socialist Party of Jamaica) in 1954. That party folded in 1962. Later, Hart established strong ties with Jagan and Bishop, two of the most controversial figures in post-colonial Caribbean.

In recent years, institutions including the Institute of Jamaica and University of the West Indies (UWI) have recognised his work. In November 2005, he was awarded the Musgrave Gold Medal by the Institute for his work as an historian. That month he was also given an honorary degree from UWI. In June 2006, Hart's work was the focus of a three-day conference at UWI's Mona campus in St Andrew.