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Jun 6, 2019

Black Cross Nurses: Analyses by S.J.C. Students

The S.J.C. History Department launched a book on the historical significance of the Black Cross Nurses in Belize. Back in 2013, the high school adopted a student-centered approach of teaching history through its African and Mayan history studies. The aim is to have students learn about different perspectives outside of colonialism and how those movements of resistance against the colonial system have shaped the country’s development. So, for this project the students have analyzed how Marcus Garvey’s teachings have impacted Belize through the Black Cross Nurses. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more in the following story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Second form students at Saint John’s College released a publication called the Black Cross Nurses. The students assessed how the philosophies of Marcus Garvey and the Black Cross Nurses have influenced labour movements and nationalism in British Honduras to present day Belize. They depicted this through visualizations, analyses and poems – all compiled in this book.


Gil Gilharry

Gil Gilharry, Student, S.J.C.

“I believe that that the analysis of the Black Cross Nurses was helpful to break us from the typical way of thinking. It freed up our minds through the philosophical thinking of Marcus Garvey and other black people. We learned how they uplifted us and helped us in our toughest times.”


History Teacher Delmer Tzib says that this exercise has empowered students to question and think critically about Belize’s history.  They now want to share this wealth of information beyond the walls of S.J.C. and hope that this book inspires other student-led projects.


Delmer Tzib

Delmer Tzib, History Teacher, S.J.C.

“More than just the text of the black cross nurses, the idea of decolonizing the educational system and the idea of pushing for an agenda of history that looks at how we are represented as Belizeans and how we are represented as natives in historical narratives and in the educational system because history can be used as a tool to motivate a full generation of people.  We already know about this; this topic is not widely discussed in our society so this book is an avenue which we can reach to everybody. So, this is the purpose of writing in such basic language so that anybody that opens the book can be able to read it and understand what is going on in relation to the black cross nurses. It is going for a very cheap cost, just ten dollars. The real hope is to inspire others to do the same; to do these projects and decolonize the educational system. If we empower our students, they can make drastic changes in our society.”


The students were tasked with producing work that delves into the theme. Student Chris Garbutt created a poem that inspired this publication.


Chris Garbutt

Chris Garbutt, Student, S.J.C.

“I will tell you of a story not shown on television about the UNIA, an association with vision. Uplifting black people, that was their dream. They’re tired of the white people being so mean. One of their programs tackled our health because blacks worry about blacks, white only cared of their health. The colonial government was not happy at all. They rather whites rise and see blacks fall. They were against this brilliant organization. Nurses had to find their own training and education. After a period of time, the government came through they used the black nurses and crosses to help all of you. In a way it came out of the Garveyite Movement itself; not moving the many but helping their health. At first it was just an idea, what more can it be? Oh look at them now, just like Vivian Seay. The UNIA looked out for each other, because white or blacks we should care for one another. The United Negroes always face problems at the door, because of people like them we should struggle no more!”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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