Elma Constance Francois (born in Overland, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on October 14, 1897 - 1944) was an Africentric political activist who, on September 25, 1987, was declared as a "national heroine of Trinidad and Tobago". She had been described as one of the "vociferous Africentric activists" in the history of Trinidad and Tobago and in the Caribbean region.
Born in 1897, Elma Francois acquired her primary education (up to "5th Standard") while working as a cotton picker with her mother. At a young age, Francois tried to organize the laborers at the Mt. Bentick factory. She bore a son, named Conrad, in 1917, who had to leave in the care of her own mother when she decided to migrate to Trinidad and Tobago. In Trinidad and Tobago, she worked as a domestic helper. There she joined the Trinidad Workingman's Association, where she found a sympathizer of the working class in the name of Captain A. A. Cipriani, a former soldier of the West India Regiment.
Francois, together with Jim Headly, was a co-founding member of the so-called Negro Welfare Cultural and Social Association (NWCSA). She was a participant in the "Butler Riots" of 1937. After being captured by the police, Francois was tried for sedition, becoming the first woman in the history of Trinidad and Tobago to be tried for such. After defending herself, Francois was eventually found not guilty of the crime.
Later, Francois became broken-hearted after her son Conrad joined the army to "fight in a war" that involves black people. Francoise died in 1944.
Other political activists of African descent
- Reddock, Rhoda (1988). Elma Francois: the NWCSA and the worker's struggle for change in the Caribbean. London and Port of Spain: New Beacon Books. ISBN 978-0-901241-79-5.
- Gilkes, Corey. Elma Francois 1897-1944, TriniView.com, November 03, 2002.
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