Descendants of National Hero the Right Excellent Samuel Jackman Prescod – the journalist and politician who was the first person of African descent to be elected to the Parliament – have expressed dissatisfaction over the demolition of his Black Rock, St Michael.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY, David Trotman, a cousin of the national hero who spoke on behalf of the family said they believed the dilapidated building, which last housed the Nightingale Children’s Home, could have been restored to its former glory.
He said: “I think we need to pay more attention to the preservation of our national buildings, all of our derelict buildings.
“The Nightingale home could have been preserved it could have been preserved as a home of Samuel Jackman Prescod.
“I know the National Trust was very disappointed that they could not save it because we need to preserve the buildings of national heritage.”
Trotman, who was a part of a wreath-laying ceremony last Friday for the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the national technical institute that bears his name, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, said it was an emotional time for his family.
He added: “The family is extremely proud of their relative.
“I recall my grandmother used to take care of the grave before he was recognized as a National Hero because he was well known as a parliamentarian.
“We are happy to be able to celebrate his legacy and we look forward to continuing that legacy.”
As a young child he heard a lot about the fight his distant cousin did for the working class, he said.
“His achievements in Parliament, his fight for the working class, his literary achievements and his commitment to serve his country and all of his scripts and writings. The family told his achievements and progress and his sacrifice,” he said.
Recalling the life of the political pioneer, Trotman noted that not much is known about the family history and his exact date of birth remains unknown.
Trotman said: “He was born in 1806 and died in 1871.
“He had two sons we know about; his daughter married and she changed her name.
“His brother died at the age 19 but the family history is a sad history.
“But he persevered and became successful and served his country.”
Born during slavery of a free black woman, Lidia Smith, and a wealthy white father, William Prescod, he was given the forenames of Samuel Jackman, a white planter.
Excluded from elective office on the basis of race under a law dating back to 1697, he eventually entered the House of Assembly in 1843 after racial restrictions were relaxed in 1831 in favour of mixed race or coloured citizens.
As a leader of the coloured community, he attended the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention in London.
A founder of the Liberal Party, which attracted small landowners, merchants and coloured clerks, he wrote for two liberal newspapers.
He later served as an appeal court judge.
On his death in 1871, aged 65, Prescod was buried in St Mary’s Churchyard in The City.