The life of late community activist Dudley Laws and a defunct organization he was associated with after migrating from England were celebrated recently at an event hosted by the Black Action Defence Committee (BADC), which he co-founded.
Laws died three years ago as a result of kidney disease complications.
After spending 10 years in England where his activism emerged, Laws came to Toronto in 1966 and joined the Jamaican Canadian Association the following year and the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1968, where he met lawyer and good friend, Charles Roach.
Marcus Garvey established the UNIA in March 1916 to promote to racial pride, economic self-sufficiency and the formation of an independent Black nation in Africa.
In the keynote address, educator Thando Hyman-Aman said Laws was an outstanding Garveyite who embraced Black nationalism.
“Mr. Laws was impacted by the work of Garvey and the movement and like many Africans in the diaspora, Garvey’s philosophy and opinions resonated with him,” she said. “He ensured that that work, those ideas, those goals and objectives would become a common thread in the work that he did in every organization of which he was a member.”
“It’s because of Garvey and the UNIA that Mr. Laws grasped an understanding of the importance of organizing, developed a positive sense of identity and, like Garvey, had a passion for the arts. Music, dance and song were central in his messages.”
Laws, who was 74 at the time of his death, led police protests and vigorously advocated on behalf of youth and the disenfranchised.
Though he was associated with many organizations, some of which he helped establish, BADC was very close to his heart. He was among 17 community activists that started the association in 1988 in response to the police shooting of Lester Donaldson.
Last Sunday’s double celebration featured performances by vocalists Azana Hyman-Aman, King Cosmos, Jimmy Reid and Don Laws; drumming by Kwabena Yafeu and spoken word by Progress.