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From maverick to mainstream: the political career of Dr Oswald E Anderson, 1919-44 Shortly after he returned to Jamaica upon completion of his medical degree at Howard University, Dr Oswald E. Anderson became involved in organisations that demanded far-reaching constitutional reforms, including the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the Jamaica League and the short-lived Jamaica Representative Government Association. From 1919 till 1923, he sat on the St Andrew parochial board. In 1931, he was co-opted onto the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) as alderman. Six years later, he was elected onto the KSAC as councillor and was also unanimously chosen as its Mayor. In 1940, Anderson was elected onto the Legislative Council. And in 1944, he stood in the first general election under universal suffrage as an independent but overwhelmingly lost to a candidate from one of the main parties. This paper will examine the issues raised by Anderson and the support he received – both within and outside of political arena – in order to illustrate that the 1938 labour riots mark a watershed in black politics in Jamaica. Prior to the riots, Anderson was a political maverick, raising issues which most of his colleagues did not dare to address, most notably the racial discrimination in the upper echelons of the government service. In the aftermath of the 1938 labour riots, the People’s National Party (PNP) was set up. Its candidates in the local elections of 1939 and general elections of 1940 were mostly younger than Anderson but stood on a platform which was if not more than at least as radical as his. It will be argued, that Anderson not only shifted from maverick to mainstream after the riots but also more generally failed to keep pace with Jamaica’s fast shifting politics, as he contested the 1944 elections as an independent rather than a candidate of the PNP or the less progressive Jamaica Labour Party (JPL), which had been set up in 1943.
Period17 Nov 2011
Event typeConference
LocationBoston, United StatesShow on map