The Butler Legacy

“As long as there is a single worker whose shack is broken down and is told you have no place in the area, the fight must go on.”

Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler was born in Bluggo Cottage, St. George’s, Grenada on 21st January 1897. He has been described as a religious, upright, outspoken leader, activist by most accounts, and hero.

Butler – a leader born to fight. From the battlefield to the oilfields.

Michael Anthony – Land of Beginnings

Buzz enlisted in the British army at the age of 17 convincing military officials he was 20 years old, as he was unable to find any other work, and his parents could not afford the finances needed for him to further his education. He fought in World War I (1914 -1918) under the First Contingent of The British West India Regiment stationed in Egypt. It was in the military service at a young age Butler was exposed to the inequalities of the social system under the rule of British imperialists.

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Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler

In 1918 Butler returned to Grenada from military service, and aligned himself with political pressure groups and workers unions, because returning soldiers were finding it difficult to find means of subsistence due to lack of jobs. He was actively involved, establishing two groups himself; The Grenada Representative Government Movement – calling for universal adult franchise and The Grenada Union of Returned Soldiers – seeking benefits and employment.

Buzz became associated with Marcus Mosiah Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and in 1920 when the capital of St. George’s was almost destroyed by fire, authorities blamed it on the teachings of Garvey. ‘Man’s rise to greatness’ is a famous speech delivered by Marcus Garvey in 1937 at the Queen’s Park Pavilion in St. George’s.

In January 1921 at the age of 24 Tubal Uriah ‘Buzz’ Butler landed in South of Trinidad and was employed at the Roodal Oil Fields as a pipe fitter. This paralleled the journeys of Grenadian men to Trinidad who became oil workers in the oil district of Fyzabad, accounting for 25% of the population.

He is known for leading a series of labour riots between 19 June and 6 July 1937, and for forming a series of political parties including the British Empire Citizens and Workers Home Rule Party, the Butler Home Rule Party, and the Butler Party that focused its platform on the improvement of the working class.

Butler’s contribution as a labour leader, and his reputation as a fighter for the masses is one of special significance. He was regarded as a hero of the people, and in fact, he was seen as the man who struck the first damaging blow against colonialism, providing courage to the fighters for independence.

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Butler with then Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Eric Williams

Butler has been credited with being a pivotal actor in the realizing of Independence for Trinidad and Tobago in 1962. As such, in 1970 he had been awarded the Trinity Cross which is the country’s highest award in recognition of his contribution to independence.

Tubal Uriah Butler passed away on 20th February 1977, however, his legacy continues to live on and serves as inspiration to working class citizens.

During his lifetime he was bestowed the title ‘Supreme Chief Servant’.

His active trade union work in Trinidad earned his assessment as a ‘national hero’ by Grenada’s People Revolutionary Government (1979 – 1983), and upon the stature of Butler, the ideal of Revolutionary Grenada’s trade union movement was built.

Today the vision, work and spirit of Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler the Supreme Chief Servant, awardee of the Trinity Cross continues to inspire. We present to you The Butler Plan and Project: A comprehensive home ownership programme – a viable plan for Grenada.