Born on Jan. 21, 1920, the Socialist lawyer Barrow will remain acclaimed in Barbados for leading his country to independence from Britain in 1966.
One of Barbados’ most important political figures, Errol W. Barrow is today remembered for his impressive record: first prime minister, father of the independence, a supporter of the regional unity, and designer of a modern system of public budgeting, among many other achievements.
Barrow was born in St. Lucy on Jan. 21, 1920 into a family of political and social activists. At the age of 20, in 1940, he joined Britain's Royal Air Force and served in World War II as a navigation officer.
At the end of the war, he went on to study law at the University of London and in 1949, he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn - one of the world’s most prestigious bodies of judges and lawyers.
After he returned home in 1950 as a practicing barrister-at-law, he became involved in politics and joined the Barbados Labor Party (BLP) in 1951.
He was elected to Parliament that same year but, as he cherished the desire to create a new political force, he managed in 1955 to launch the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) along with other politicians, including James Cameron Tudor and Frederick Smith.
Having brought an end to the long process of decolonization, Barrow will remain acclaimed in Barbados for leading his country to independence from Britain in 1966.
Barrow’s leadership had a great impact on Barbados' social landscape and the quality of his administration led him to receive several awards while sitting as prime minister.
Among them were an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from Canada's McGill University in 1966 and the Lions International "Head of State Award" in 1967.
A declared socialist, the former PM was particularly successful in securing many important social changes for Barbados over the 15-year period of his governance.
He fought against segregation in education, democratized its process, making it free and accessible to everyone.
He also introduced social security in the country, improved health services, accelerated the nation’s industrial development, and considerably expanded tourism.
After his election defeat in September 1976, Barrow spent a brief period as an academic lecturer in the U.S.; however, he never abandoned his seat in Parliament and eventually became a leader of the opposition.
In May 1986, at the age of 66, he again led his party to power obtaining 24 of the 27 seats in parliament, the largest ever margin of seats in the nation’s history. But Barrow suddenly died one year later on June 1, 1987.
Regionally and internationally, the ex-premier was a staunch critic of the U.S. economic and military domination of the Caribbean.
He also opposed the U.S.’s 1983 invasion of Grenada, in which Barbados’ then government and other Caribbean nations participated, leading to the assassination of revolutionary Maurice Bishop in October 1983.
Barrow then pledged to never allow the Barbadian territory to be used to launch attacks against brother countries
He was also renowned for his firm opposition to the South African apartheid and his emphasis on the Caribbean regional integration.
When the West Indies Federation collapsed in 1962, Barrow helped establish the Caribbean Free Trade Association, which evolved into today's Caribbean Community.