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The Grenada Revolution - Unison Whiteman led the charge

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Unison Whiteman was the founder of JEWEL (Joint Endeavour on Welfare for Education and Liberation). JEWEL was the start of the later organization, NJM (new JEWEL movement). NJM was a merger between JEWEL and MAP (Movement of Assemblies of People).

Who was Unison?

Unison was from the parish of St. David. His community was Central St. David's. He attended Presentation Brothers College (PBC) for secondary school. He studied economics at Howard University in Washington DC, both at the bachelors and masters level. Unison became an economist.

Unison Whiteman
Picture of Unison Whiteman

His political life

Unison started JEWEL upon his return to Grenada from the US where he had studied economics. Unison joined forces with Sebastian Thomas, also from St. David, to form MAP by March 1972. The intent of the group was to promote social and cultural activities. Later, the movement changed to focus on opposing the work of Eric Gairy and his regime. It was a rural movement and was concentrated in the parish of St. David. An incident involving access to a beach at La Sagesse created the opportunity for merging with Maurice Bishop who was leading his own group, MAP. On March 11, 1973, MAP and JEWEL merged to form NJM. Unison served as coordinating secretary of the organization alongside Maurice Bishop. The members were Maurice Bishop, Teddy Victor, Sebastian Thomas and Unison Whiteman. NJM became a political party that contested the 1976 elections under the banner "People's Alliance" in partnership with the Grenada National party and United People's Party. Of note, Unison Whiteman had contested a seat in the 1972 elections and had lost, so it was not his first time being a candidate in the 1976 elections.

On March 13, 1979, Unison joined his other comrades in leading the overthrew of the Gairy government. During the 1979 to 1983, Unison served as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On October 19, 1983, Unison Whiteman lost his life during the tragic events that ended the Grenada revolution. Unison started the day of October 19, 1983 organizing supporters at Market Square to free Maurice Bishop who had been under house arrest at Mt. Wheldale since October 13. He gathered thousands of supporters including secondary school students, and led them from market square to Mt. Wheldale.

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