Victoria Pasley


In February 1970 the Black Power movement in Trinidad exploded as thousands of young people took to the streets in massive demonstrations that rocked the island. The government responded by arresting activists and ultimately declaring a state of emergency. At the same time a group of young army officers, sympathetic to the Black Power movement, mutinied. Prime Minister Eric Williams and the People’s National Movement (PNM) government emerged from the uprising, severely shaken but still with a firm grip on powers. Women played an active role in the demonstrations and within the activist groups that were a part of the movement, but scholars and observers generally have failed to document their participation.

This article explores the gender ideology of the Black Power movement, the participation of women, the effect of the fight against racism together with an increased level of race consciousness on gender awareness, and the cultural changes inspired by Black Power. It then analyses the emergence of a new and more radical phase of the women’s movement in Trinidad in the mid to late 1970s, which led to the beginnings of a feminist discourse. It follows that development by assessing the increased consumerism spawned by the oil boom and how it conflicted with Black Power ideology and affected the gender system. The final section will examine how women and men are portrayed in newspaper advertisements, women’s pages, letters, articles and other newspaper items.