March 2nd, 2017, has been proclaimed by the City of Hartford in the State of Connecticut, USA as “Sir Hilary Beckles Day.” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, in his proclamation, following a series of public engagements in the city made reference to Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles for his “global service in the cause of social justice, peace, and sustainable development”.
On Tuesday Feb. 28th Prof. Beckles, was honored at Central Connecticut State University with the internationally prestigious Amistad Award. The presentation was made by President of the University, Dr. Zulma Toro, who spoke of the role played by Prof. Beckles in international university leadership and in particular public education in the Caribbean.
The award states that: “The Amistad Award is conferred in Recognition of His Outstanding Contributions to Historical Knowledge and the Struggle for Human Rights and Social Justice”.
In 1839 the Slave Ship “Amistad” arrived in the USA with 53 Africans. With the help of anti-slavery activists, and the legal advocacy of former President of the USA, John Quincy Adams, the captives were able to litigate to gain their freedom. A Federal Judge in the state of Connecticut ruled that they were illegally brought to the country and had a right to rebel against their captors.
The trial of the “Amistad 53” has become the most famous law case in American history. The State, and its university, mark this historic moment and honor the men and women aboard the Amistad for the tenacity and courage in gaining their freedom.
In accepting the award, Sir Hilary thanked President Toro, and the Amistad Committee, for their collegial generosity and pledged his continued support for “global civil rights and the quest for greater human dignity in the face of the corrosive challenges of everyday life.”