BERNARD COARD was born on August 10, 1944 in the Caribbean island of Grenada. He studied Economics at Brandeis University (USA, 1963-66) and Comparative Politics and Development Economics at Sussex University (United Kingdom, 1966-71). While in Britain, Bernard wrote the seminal work, How the West Indian Child Is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System and helped organize black Caribbean parents and youth groups, and set up Saturday Supplementary Schools for black children throughout Britain.
On returning to the Caribbean, Bernard taught at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Trinidad and Tobago, and at Mona, Jamaica. During that period, Bernard was also actively involved in the formation of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) and was a member of its first (Political) Bureau. He won the seat of the Town of St. George’s, Grenada’s capital, in the Parliament in the December 1976 General Elections, representing the NJM and the “People’s Alliance.”
Bernard played a leading role in the organization of the NJM for the overthrow of Grenada’s dictator, Eric Gairy, on March 13, 1979. He was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance during the Revolution’s four years and seven months. He has been widely praised for his handling of the economy during that period, and for the many economic and social programmes that he initiated.
Bernard spent 26 years in prison (1983-2009) following the October 1983 US invasion of Grenada in the aftermath of the tragic killing of Prime Minister and revolutionary leader, Maurice Bishop and several others. The US-orchestrated trial of him and 16 of his colleagues was described by Amnesty International as “…a process that was in gross violation of international standards.”
While in prison, on the initiative of the then Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Winston Courtney, Bernard set up a comprehensive education programme for all inmates, from basic literacy to post-graduate degrees from London University.
Bernard, along with the final group of “Grenada-17” political prisoners, was finally released on September 5, 2009. Since then, he has lived in Jamaica with Phyl, his wife, where they celebrated 50 years of marriage earlier this year. They have three children and four grandchildren.