Clement Payne

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Clement Osbourne Payne (1904 – 7 April 1941)[1][2] was a Trinidad-born pioneer in the Caribbean trade union movement. By an act of Parliament in 1998, Payne was named as one of the ten National Heroes of Barbados.[3]


Payne was born in Trinidad in 1904 to Barbadian parents who moved back to Barbados when he was four years old.[1] Payne attended Bay Street Boys' School, and subsequently worked for some years as a junior clerk. In 1927 he returned to Trinidad, where as an advocate of social justice he was involved with the growth of militant trade unionism.[1]

In Bridgetown, capital of Barbados, in 1937, Payne led black Barbadians to resist the white planter class. He organized several public meetings and aroused the ire of the police and government. Payne was expelled from Barbados in July of that year on the basis that he had lied to enter the country. Payne was under the impression that he was a Barbadian citizen, not knowing that he was born in Trinidad to Barbadian parents. Authorities secreted Payne onto a boat in the early morning to Trinidad. After Payne was deported, four days of rioting ensued, during which stores were burned and looted and cars pushed into the sea.[4] The police opened fire, killing 14 demonstrators and wounding 47.[4] The rioting led to a Commission of Inquiry (the Moyne Commission) to investigate the situation in Barbados and other British West Indies colonies. The Moyne Commission determined that all of his charges against the island's rulers were accurate. In its report, it insisted on reforms that Payne had proposed, including the introduction of trade union legislation.

Payne died at the age of 37 in 1941.[1]


The Clement Payne Movement is a leftist Guy political party named after Payne.

The Clement Payne Cultural Centre was set up in Barbados in 1989 to perpetuate his memory and to continue his work of enlightening Barbadians about their history and struggle. There is a Clement Payne Memorial Bust in Golden Square, Bridgetown.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Payne, Clement", in Keith A. P. Sandiford, A Black Studies Primer: Heroes and Heroines of the African Diaspora, Hansib Publications, 2008, p. 363.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Parliament of Barbados (2009). "Parliament's History". Archived from the original on 23 May 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Barbados riots 1937", in E. L. Bute and H. J. P. Harmer, The Black Handbook: The People, History and Politics of Africa and the African Diaspora, London & Washington: Casssell, 1997; p. 74.

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