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The Grenada Revolution - Maurice Bishop and his early life

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Maurice Bishop was the leader of the Grenada revolution from 1979 to 1983.

Maurice was born on May 29, 1944 in Aruba. His parents were Alimenta and Rupert Bishop who were Grenadians. Maurice was a Grenadian by descent, but fully embraced as a true Grenadian. Maurice was one of three children of the Bishop Family. His sisters were Ann and Maureen Bishop. Maurice spent the first six years of his life in Aruba. At the time, Aruba was the locale of many Grenadian migrants who came to the Dutch island for work in the booming Oil industry. Maurice's father, Rupert Bishop, worked at the Lago Aviation Fuel Refinery in Aruba.

In 1950, the Bishop family moved back to Grenada. The Bishop family became members of the Parade community in St. Paul's, St. George's. Maurice was also raised by the Morne Jaloux Community which was the village of his Grandfather. Maurice attended the J.W. Fletcher Primary School. As a young boy, he loved playing tennis, pitching marbles and reading comic books. It was at the Tennis club at Richmond Hill in Morne Jaloux, Maurice first met Kenrick Radix or "Dix". Kenrick Radix would become another major player of the events of March 13, 1979 and the revolutionary period, 1979-1983.

Maurice passed to attend secondary school on his second chance. He attended the prestigious, Presentation Brothers College. He was actively engaged in the life of the school. He was the President of the Student Council, Debating Society and Historical Society. He was also the editor of the school newspaper. In those days, there was sixth (6th) form, and while there, Maurice co-founded the organization, Grenada Assembly of Youth after Truth alongside Bernard Coard. Bernard Coard would later become the Deputy PM under the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) during 1979-1983, and eventually incarcerated for the events of October 19,1983 - the tragic day of killing of Maurice Bishop.

Upon completion of secondary school, Maurice worked at the High Court Registry of Grenada in preparation to pursue law studies in the UK. In 1963, Maurice went to University of London. He again was actively involved in school life including the West Indian Student Union and the Students' Association of Holborn College. He read widely and became intrigued by the anti-colonial movement taking place globally including the work of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, Fidel Castro in Cuba, and Che Guevara in Argentina.

It was in London that Maurice met Angela Redhead, who would become his wife. Angela Redhead was a Grenadian nurse. They married and had two children together, a daughter and a son. Upon finishing law school, Maurice worked as a tax auditor and founded the Legal Aid office for the West Indian Community in Notting Hill Gate.

During the time in London, Maurice remained close with Bernard Coard who visited occasionally, Kenrick Radix and also Hudson Austin. Hudson Austin, Maurice had met, in the community of Parade. In 1973, Maurice returned to Grenada. He set up a law practice with his good friend, Kenrick Radix, on Grandby Street, St. George's. They hired Maurice's sister, Ann Bishop, to be their legal secretary. Maurice became involved in politics as a political activist. He became involved in the Movement of the Advancement of Community Effort (MACE). MACE would later merge with the Committee of Concerned Citizens to form the Movement for Assemblies of the People (MAP). This would later merge with another group led by Unison Whiteman, JEWEL (Joint Endeavour for Welfare Education and Liberation) to form NJM (New Jewel Movement) in March 1973.

The greatest act of political activism that raised the visibility of young Maurice Bishop was the 1970 demonstration to protest deplorable conditions of the hospital, shortage of medicines and working conditions of nurses.

Yet it was the events of Bloody Monday that became the trigger of the events of March 13, 1979. Bloody Monday occurred on January 21, 1974 - a few weeks shy of Grenada's achievement of independence in 1974. On Bloody Monday, Rupert Bishop was killed. Rupert was gunned down in the building known as Otway House. This was during a demonstration on the Carenage against Gairy government. It is believed that Rupert was protecting women and children in the building when he was killed. Fort George is also referred to Fort Rupert in honour of Rupert Bishop.

Learn more about Maurice Bishop's early life here:

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