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Panel discussion commemorates life of professor Stuart Hall

DISCUSSION: Jamaican High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ms Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, led the proceedings

A SPECIAL panel discussion to commemorate the life of Jamaican Professor Stuart Hall on the first anniversary of his death was hosted at the Jamaica High Commission in London on Tuesday, February 10.

The Jamaican cultural theorist, who was also famously referred to as the 'godfather of multiculturalism', died last February in the UK, aged 82.

Jamaican High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ms Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, welcomed the panellists and highlighted the Jamaican roots of Professor Hall.

She noted that Professor Hall was born in Kingston in 1932 and went to Jamaica College, where he was introduced to political philosophies which would guide the rest of his life.

The High Commissioner read a statement from Professor Hall’s widow, Dr Catherine Hall, who said that her husband always remembered his Jamaican roots in his campaigns on behalf of the black British community.

She said that even though he came to Britain as a Rhodes Scholar in 1951, and never went back home, his heart was always in Jamaica.

REMEMBERED: Professor Stuart Hall

“Professor Hall was a campaigner for racial justice, and from 1997 to 2000 he sat on the Runnymede Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, and did not shy away from coming to conclusions which were not popular with the media,” said Mrs Ndombet-Assamba. “Two years ago, a film was produced called ‘The Stuart Hall Project’, which brought Professor Hall to the attention of a new generation.”

Dr Cecil Gutzmore, who moderated the panel discussion, noted with sadness how Professor Hall’s achievements have not received the public acclaim they deserve in the United Kingdom. He observed that Professor Hall had been a prolific writer on a number of sociological issues in Britain, but his Marxist views were not acceptable to the British establishment.

One of the panellists, Professor Augustus John, who studied at Oxford with Professor Hall, suggested that British society was uncomfortable with the idea of a black man finding fault with British society.

Other panellists were Ester Standford and Dr. Kehinde Andrews.

Professor Hall was one of the leading sociologists in the country and one of the founders of the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies. He was a lecturer in sociology at the Open University from 1979 to 1997, when he retired.

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