By David Abdulah
The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) of Trinidad and Tobago was registered as a political party with the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in April 2010. Our Founding Congress was held on May 14, 2011. At that Founding Congress the party’s constitution was approved, and the First National Executive was elected.
The party, however, had been a work in progress well before 2010. David Abdulah, together with a number of very progressive political personalities who had been involved in important political and labor organizations from the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s. Ian “Teddy” Belgrave and Lyle Townsend (both of whom have regrettably passed away) and Dr. Roosevelt Williams held regular discussions on the need to build a progressive political party, following the collapse of the earlier Movement for Social Transformation (MOTION) that was founded in 1989. MOTION itself was the culmination of close to a decade of patient party building through the pre-party organization – the Committee for Labour Solidarity Preparatory (CLS) formed in 1981. David Abdulah was the convenor of the CLS and was elected as MOTION’s interim political leader in 1989.
The discussions of the four comrades led to political education sessions in 2001 with a group of youth activists and inevitably led to the formation of an informal organization, “The Walkers of the Talk of Trinidad and Tobago” or WOTT. This soon gave way to “The Collective,” which informal organization now included not only the older political personalities, but also a number of leading trade union officers and other community and political activists.
“The Collective” started the process towards the formation of a political party. An interim leadership was chosen and regular meetings of the Activist Council were held. In 2009 a name was chosen for the party: The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ).
At the party’s Founding Congress in 2011, David Abdulah was elected its chairperson. In January 2012, the political leader Errol McLeod resigned and David was selected by the party’s Activist Council to be the political leader. He has been elected to that position by subsequent party congresses.
Our name – Movement for Social Justice – embodies our commitment to build a political movement and not an electoral party machine. Only a strong movement can:
- change the political culture of the country where the two traditional parties get support along lines of race, religion and geography
- challenge the status quo and transform the society where economic power is entrenched in the hands of the few and political power is used to maintain the economic system and where social injustice abounds.
Our symbol is the fist holding a balanced scale.
The MSJ is the only “left of centre” party in Trinidad and Tobago. We are a member of the Sao Paulo Forum and coordinate the Forum’s work in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Caption: Youth organization of the Movement for Social Justice
Photo credit: Movement for Social Justice