Socio-Political contributor - Ron Belgrave

Socio-Political contributor – Ron Belgrave

In Barbados news. Ralph Straker, a prominent figure over the years in the Barbadian and wider Caribbean communities in London, passed away peacefully on Saturday 12th October after suffering from a rare form of Parkinson’s disease during the latter stages of his life.

Born in St. Michael, Barbados, Ralph travelled as a 21 year old to settle in London in 1956 and joined London Transport as a bus conductor based at the Finchley garage where he worked for eight years when he joined the Post Office in 1964.

By the late 1950s, Ralph had already recognised the issues faced in Britain by his fellow Caribbeans and had started to give voluntary assistance to Barbadians living in Haringey, Islington and Hackney.

Those issues (racial violence, discrimination in housing and employment etc.) soon increased to the point where he felt it necessary to work full-time in this type of work and, in 1973, he transferred to Hackney Council for Racial Equality as Deputy Senior Officer and later worked as a Race Relations Adviser for Haringey Council.

The late Ralph Straker OBE BSM. Photo courtesy Diocese of Southwark

The late Ralph Straker OBE BSM. Photo courtesy Diocese of Southwark

Ralph was at the forefront of the fight in the 1960s against the bussing of Black children from one borough to the next and active in the fight against the routine labeling of Black children as educationally sub-normal.

He later founded the Sam Uriah Morris Centre in Hackney which is a museum housing a permanent pictorial display of African and diasporan cultures and civilisations from early Egypt to the modern day.

Ralph was active in the church becoming a Verger at St. Paul’s in Finchley and only retiring 45 years later to the day on 31st March 2011. He also worked for the Race Relations Commission in the Diocese of Southwark for a decade (1991-2001), arranged youth exchange visits with Zimbabwe and was awarded the St. Mellitus medal by the Bishop of London in April 2011 for his services to the church in London.

He was awarded the Barbados Service Medal (BSM) and given an OBE in the New Year’s honours list of 2002 for services to community relations in the UK.

Ralph Straker OBE, BSM (1935-2013) is mourned by his wife Monica and three daughters.