By Lara Pickford-Gordon
A banner was erected at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Port of Spain July 31 ahead of the Emancipation observance on August 1.
It bears an image created by St Lucian artist Shallon Fedlien, in response to the May 25 killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota by ex-Police officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe” are on the banner with a quote from Exodus 9:1, “Set my people free”. The viewer cannot help but be drawn into the tragic moment through the intense emotion in the stylised face.
Cathedral Administrator Fr Martin Sirju explained Msgr Patrick Anthony, fondly known as ‘Paba’, one of the theological advisers on the Conference on Theology in the Caribbean Today (CTCT) brought the artwork to the attention of the CTCT organisers. They were planning the hosting of the July 16 webinar ‘Black Lives Matter: Caribbean Theological Perspectives’.
“I took the artwork and weaved it into a banner that adorns the Cathedral for the Emancipation weekend. It is the cry of all marginalised and excluded populations and groups, but in special way African peoples in the continent and diaspora,” Fr Sirju said.
He further stated that the banner conveys to visitors of the Cathedral that the Church ought to constantly engage the social issues of the day and remind people of the subversive nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It will remain up until the end of August.
Asked if other topical banners be put up in the future, Fr Sirju replied, “My answer to that is from the mouth of black American music legend Quincy Jones: ‘You can’t rush creativity’.”