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Sunday 16 June 2019
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Stalin’s family welcomes proposal to honour him

NAMING a street in San Fernando after Black Stalin (Leroy Calliste) is a fitting tribute because he may never sing again, his sister Gloria Calliste said yesterday.

Gloria was among relatives who welcomed the proposal for San Fernando to pay homage to this five-time Calypso Monarch by renaming Knox Street, where he grew up, after him.

“Oh, that would be great. I would love to see his name or the family’s name on a street sign or a statue of him for people to remember who he is, because he may never sing again.

“When I walk on Harris Promenade, San Fernando, and see the busts of Marcus Garvey and Mahatma Gandhi and other international heroes, I feel proud. I would love to see a bust of my brother or someone like Ras Shorty I on the promenade, for children to look at and remember those who paved the way for us,” said Gloria, who is also a calypso writer. Her sentiments were echoed by her son Junior.

PRO of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) Ras Kommanda (Steve Pascall) also embraced the idea.

“It is time to change the names of some of our streets, promenades and buildings and replace them with the names of our local heroes.” A strong advocate for local content, Kommanda said, “I don’t know a lot about the people our streets are named after. Take for instance Lord Harris (Governor of Trinidad between 1846 to 1853, after whom the promenade was named). I don’t know how positive or how negative he was, but they could definitely change some of the names and replace them with our local heroes.

“All the community centres in TT should also be named after a great person in the community, after people who contributed as a way of recognition.”

The idea of recognising and honouring local artistes came from the floor of a national conversation on the draft national policy on culture and the arts at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in San Fernando on July 16.

However, San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello said over a year ago he proposed renaming Knox Street in Stalin’s honour, but he never got a response from Stalin’s wife Patsy.

“I understand Mrs Calliste had an issue with vagrants living on the street behind the Carnegie Free Library. Through (TUCO), a message was sent that the street to be named in her husband’s honour runs from the Police Station on Harris Promenade straight down to the Library Corner, which intersects with Mucurapo Street.

“We are still waiting on her response.”

Several calls made to Stalin’s home and his wife’s cell phone were not answered.

Stalin, who had a distinguished career of almost six decades, had an ischaemic stroke in 2014 which affected both his speech and movement on the right side of his body.

Gloria said her brother, who is recovering at his Turton Street, San Fernando home, “is doing well. He is speaking, but is not making complete sentences.”

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