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Obituaries » Thelma E Padmore

Thelma E Padmore

March 6, 1926 - July 15, 2013

Cemetery Unknown

 


Thelma Elaine Padmore

Died peacefully at home with her family in Silver Spring, Maryland on July 15th, 2013 aged 87. Born March 6th, 1926 in Bridgetown Barbados she became an activist in the Barbados Workers Union and helped to integrate retail shop workers in the city’s central shopping district.
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In the mid 1950’s she joined a league of politicians and activists including Frederick “Sleepy” Smith, T.T. Lewis, and Errol Barrow, who were disaffected with the colonial government’s failure to win independence for the island, and later broke away to form the Democrat Labor Party under Barrow’s leadership. Padmore and Barrow became romantically involved around the time of his first election defeat as the head of the newly formed DLP. Later, in 1959 when her pregnancy threatened to derail Barrow’s political career in scandal, she quietly slipped out of the island and immigrated to England where she gave birth to their son in February 1960. Barrow would go on to lead the island to independence in 1966.

Like countless other West Indians in London at the time, she turned to eminent Trinidadian physician Dr. David Pitt (later Lord Pitt, Baron of Hampstead) for her medical care. Facing the virulent racism that plagued Britain in the 1960’s, it was not long before she became active in the anti-discrimination organizations that Pitt headed, such as the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination and the League of Colored Peoples. Those organizations were pivotal in moving the Labour Party government to pass the Race Relations Act of 1968, which in turn prompted Conservative Parliamentarian Enoch Powell’s infamous “River of Blood” speech and a populist backlash against immigrants.  Faced with an uncertain future for her and her child, she moved to Canada one month before the Conservative Party swept the 1970 general election. She retired in Toronto after 20 years of service to the law firm Holden Day Wilson.

The daughter of the late Ernest Fitzgerald Padmore and his wife Muriel Eldica (nee Herbert) she is survived by her sons Thomas Field Jr. (wife Betty) of Barbados, Eric Padmore (wife Jamie) of Silver Spring  MD, grandchildren Robert Padmore (Silver Spring), Sean, Martyn and Emma Field (Barbados), Glenn Field (Canada), nieces Phaedra Yamson (Ghana), Christine Yamson (UK), and six great-grandchildren. The family has repatriated her remains to Barbados in time for the 50th anniversary of Independence, a cause which was foremost in her heart.

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