The annual Heroes & Benefactors Exhibit was launched today at the Banquitas House of Culture. Primary and Secondary Schools from the Orange Walk District joined in on the educational tour which saw guest speaker Fred Hunter share the rich history and culture of our forefathers and ancestors. But while the students got a lesson on Belize’s much cherished roots, inside the Banquitas House of Culture, was an exhibition with a wealth of knowledge. Director of the National Institute of Culture and History in Belize, Nigel Encalada, says two national heroes were added in this year’s exhibit; Trade Unionist Clifford Betson and Pioneer, Lee Richardson. He explained to us their significance and impact to the jewel.
Nigel Encalada– Director, NICH Belize
“Lee Richardson was one of the original leaders who founded if you want to use that word the movement toward greater constitutional reform and advancement rather and eventually Independence. His early role is perhaps under, he is an unsound hero, his role is understated but he is one of the coeditors of the Belize Billboard and during that period I think the newspaper would have been at least twice a week and the featured regular articles condemning the colonial structure at the time as a matter of fact along with Phillip Goldson, Lee Richardson they were sentenced eighteen months imprisonment with hard labor and I think they ended up serving about twelve and along with Goldson they were the only two nationalist leaders to observe the prison time eventually they split Richardson, Goldson and Jex from the People United Party and in some sense it set in motion events that would lead the merchants of Belize’s democracy eventually left for the US and not much since that time not much had been said about his early contributions in that critical period where the Nationalist Movement took root. Clifford Betson on the other hand he was knows as a Unionist and by his occupation as a shipwright Clifford Betson is what you would consider the guy who was able to galvanize and strengthen the general workers Union in particular during the 1940’s managing to lobby and negotiate wage increases for forestry and water front workers I think one estimate suggest that the strength of the Union had reached at its peak and about 10,000 members during 1940’s of course by that time he was already would have been in his early 50’s more or less and what he did given the strength of the Union he then handed over the Union to the nationalist leaders; Pollard, Price, Goldson who then form partnerships with the BWU and then eventually use Union support to move the constitutional agenda forward.”
The exhibit coincides with National Heroes and Benefactor’s Day which will be observed as a holiday on Monday and will be open to the public for viewing throughout the month of March.