Thomas Vincent Ramos

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Thomas Vincent Ramos
Thomas Vincent Ramos.jpg
Born(1887-09-17)17 September 1887
Puerto Cortés, Honduras
Died 13 November 1955(1955-11-13) (aged 68)
Stann Creek Town, British Honduras
(now Dangriga, Belize)
Nationality Belizean
Occupation School teacher
Known for Civil rights activist, founder of Garifuna Settlement Day

Thomas Vincent Ramos, commonly known as T. V. Ramos, (17 September 1887 - 13 November 1955) was a Belizean civil rights activist who promoted the interests of the Garifuna people, and is now considered a national hero. [1]

Belize country in Central America

Belize is a country located on the eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by Guatemala. It has an area of 22,970 square kilometres (8,867 sq mi) and a population of 387,879 (2017). Its mainland is about 180 mi (290 km) long and 68 mi (110 km) wide. It has the lowest population and population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year (2015) is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.

The Garifuna are an indigenous people native to the island of St. Vincent who speak an eponymous Arawakan language.

Contents

Background

T. V. Ramos was born in Puerto Cortés, Honduras, on 17 September 1887 and was educated at Wesleyan Methodist primary schools in Stann Creek Town, British Honduras (now Dangriga, Belize), and Belize City. He took correspondence courses in business administration, public speaking, journalism and accountancy. Ramos married Elisa Marian Fuentes in 1914. He moved permanently to Stann Creek Town in 1923 but did not formally become a British subject until one year before his death in 1955. [1]

Puerto Cortés town in Cortés, Honduras

Puerto Cortés, originally known as Puerto de Caballos, is a city on the north Caribbean coast of Honduras, right on the Laguna de Alvarado, north of San Pedro Sula and east of Omoa, with a natural bay. The present city was founded in the early colonial period. It grew rapidly in the twentieth century, thanks to the then railroad, and banana production. In terms of volume of traffic the seaport is the largest in Central America and the 36th largest in the world. As of 2014, Puerto Cortés has a population of some 200,000.

Honduras republic in Central America

Honduras, officially the Republic of Honduras, is a country in Central America. It has at times been referred to as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became modern-day Belize. The republic of Honduras is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.

Dangriga Town in Stann Creek, Belize

Dangriga, formerly known as Stann Creek Town, is a town in southern Belize, located on the Caribbean coast at the mouth of the North Stann Creek River. It is the capital of Belize's Stann Creek District. Dangriga is served by the Dangriga Airport. Commonly known as the "culture capital of Belize" due to its influence on punta music and other forms of Garifuna culture, Dangriga is the largest settlement in southern Belize.

Social activist

After moving to British Honduras, Ramos became a school teacher. He was also a visionary leader. Concerned about the systematic neglect of health facilities for Garinagu in Stann Creek Town, he founded the Carib Development and Sick Aid Society and later the Carib International Society, which had affiliations in Guatemala and Honduras. [2] The purpose of the Carib Development Society was to help the sick and to assist those who need financial assistance to bury their dead. The society owns 800 acres (3.2 km2) of land that was called the Carib Reserve at Sarawee in the Stann Creek valley. [3] He lobbied successfully for the colonial authorities to provide native Garifuna nurses in the local hospital. [2] Ramos was a Methodist, a preacher, and wrote several Garifuna hymns. Some of them are sung each year at his memorial. [4]

Guatemala republic in Central America

Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala, is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. With an estimated population of around 16.6 million, it is the most populated country in Central America. Guatemala is a representative democracy; its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.

T. V. Ramos was a contemporary of Marcus Garvey, and was involved in Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association. He fought discrimination against Garifuna people, including all Afro-Belizeans. He was founder of the Independent Manhood and Exodus Uplift Society and the Colonial Industrial Instruction Association. [1] He was a prolific contributor to the newspapers. For example, writing in the Belize Independent on 21 January 1942 Ramos complained of the brutality of some Wesleyan School teachers towards their students, and the immorality of some of the female pupil teachers. [5]

Marcus Garvey Jamaica-born British political activist, Pan-Africanist, orator, and entrepreneur

Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. ONH was a Jamaican-born political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator. He was first President-General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). He also was President and one of the directors of the Black Star Line, a shipping and passenger line incorporated in Delaware. The Black Star Line went bankrupt and Garvey was imprisoned after a trial that was "probably politically motivated" for mail fraud in the selling of its stock. Even though Garvey's conviction was upheld on appeal, his sentence was commuted in 1927. Advocates of African Redemption have openly sought to have him exonerated since 1987, continuing to the present day.

In 1940, as leader and spokesman of the Garifuna people along with Pantaleon Hernandez and Domingo Ventura he approached the governor of the colony and asked for establishment of a public and bank holiday to observe the Garifuna arrival in Belize. The request was granted and the Carib Disembarkation Day, later named Garifuna Settlement Day, was first celebrated in Stann Creek District on 19 November 1941. The holiday was recognized in Toledo District in 1943 and throughout the country in 1977. [2]

Garifuna Settlement Day is a public holiday in Belize, celebrated each year on November 19. The holiday was created by Belizean civil rights activist, Thomas Vincent Ramos, in 1941. It was recognized as a public holiday in the southern districts of Belize in 1943, and declared a national holiday in 1977. The holiday celebrates the settlement of the Garifuna people in Belize after being exiled from the Grenadines by the British army. The major festivities for the holiday occur in the town of Dangriga, including parades, street music, and traditional dancing.

Stann Creek District District in Belize

Stann Creek District is a district in the south east region of Belize. According to the 2010 census, the district had a population of 32,166 people. Its capital is the city of Dangriga, formerly known as "Stann Creek Town." Stann comes from "stanns," or safe havens used by colonialists coming from the "old world" to the "new world."

Toledo District District in Belize

Toledo District is the southernmost district in Belize, and Punta Gorda is the District capital. It is the least developed region in the country, and it features some of the most pristine rainforests, extensive cave networks, coastal lowland plains, and offshore cays. Toledo is home to a wide range of cultures: Mopan and Kekchi Maya, Creole, the Garifuna, East Indians, Mennonites, Mestizos, and descendants of US Confederate settlers.

Legacy

Ramos died on 13 November 1955 and was laid to rest the following day. [4] Since 1956, A torchlight parade has been held on 13 November every year in honor of his contributions to Belize and to his people. [6] The parade is part of the week-long lead-up to the Garifuna Settlement Day that he established, which includes selection of Miss Garifuna, parades and special church services, and The T. V. Ramos Classic Bike Race. [7] [8] His granddaughter Adele Ramos published a biography of T. V. Ramos in 2000. [9] A statue of Thomas Vincent Ramos stands at the junction of Commerce and Front Streets in Dangriga. [10]

Adele Ramos is a Belizean poet, author, journalist and publisher. She is assistant editor of the Amandala, a widely circulated tabloid newspaper, published twice weekly.

Ivan Ramos, a grandson, served as a member of the Belize House of Representatives from Dangriga from 2012 to 2015. [4] [11]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 "Belizean Biographies: Thomas Vincent Ramos". Belize National Library Service and Information System. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
  2. 1 2 3 Jose Francisco Avila & Tomas Alberto Avila. "The Period 1920 - 1940 - Thomas Vincent Ramos". Garifuna World. Lulu.com. ISBN   1-928810-02-0.
  3. "Thomas Vincent Ramos". The Belizean Studies Resource Center. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
  4. 1 2 3 Ramos, Adele. "52nd tribute to T.V. Ramos". Amandala , 18 November 2008. (accessed 22 May 2015)
  5. Peter Hitchen (2005). Education And Multi-cultural Cohesion in the Caribbean: The Case of Belize, 1931 - 1981. Lulu.com. ISBN   1-4116-5453-6.
  6. Sebastian Cayetano (1993). Garifuna history, language & culture of Belize, Central America & the Caribbean. The Author. p. 51.
  7. Harry S. Pariser (1998). Explore Belize. Harry S. Pariser. p. 279. ISBN   1-55650-785-2.
  8. "Celebrating Garifuna Day". San Pedro Sun. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
  9. Thomas Vincent Ramos, Adele Ramos (2000). Thomas Vincent Ramos: the man and his writings. National Garifuna Council of Belize. ISBN   976-8111-56-9.
  10. Mara Vorhees, Joshua Samuel Brown (2008). Belize. Lonely Planet. p. 222. ISBN   1-74104-703-X.
  11. "Bye-Election In July! PUP Hon. Ivan Ramos Steps Down As Representative", Tropical Vision Limited, 8 June 2015. (accessed 18 June 2015)