E. R. Braithwaite, Author of ‘To Sir, With Love’ – RIP

Go Lean Commentary 

The movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean asserts that one person can make a difference in society; that one can engage a hero’s journey and overcome obstacles to impact society to benefit themselves and others. The book posits that such a hero can function in a lot of different areas of specialty; in fact the book identifies 144 different advocacies, therefore portraying that there a lot of ways to help our Caribbean society. This aligns with this principle:

“ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves”.

braithwaite-photo-1We come to this reckoning today … as the Caribbean mourns the passing of Guyana-born author Edward Ricardo Braithwaite; (June 27, 1912 – December 12, 2016); he published under the name E. R. Braithwaite. In his long and accomplished lifetime he excelled as a novelist, writer, teacher, and diplomat, best known for his stories of social conditions and racial discrimination against Black people. He was the author of the 1959 book To Sir, With Love, which was made into the highly acclaimed 1967 British drama film of the same title, starring Sidney Poitier and budding musical artist Lulu. May he “Rest In Peace”.

See the New York Times story here and an excerpt VIDEO from movie below:

Title: E. R. Braithwaite, Author of ‘To Sir, With Love,’ Dies at 104
E. R. Braithwaite, a Guyanese author, diplomat and former Royal Air Force pilot whose book “To Sir, With Love,” a memoir of teaching in London’s deprived East End, was adapted into a hit 1967 film starring Sidney Poitier, died on Monday in Rockville, Md. He was 104.

Mr. Braithwaite’s companion, Genevieve Ast, confirmed his death to The Associated Press. He had taught English at HowardUniversity, in Washington, and lived in the area for many years.

Mr. Braithwaite, who became a diplomat and represented Guyana at the United Nations and in Venezuela, wrote several books, many about racism in countries like South Africa and the United States, where he lived much of his life. But he is best known for “To Sir, With Love” (1959).

The book chronicled his efforts — as a courtly, Cambridge-educated military veteran who had been denied employment as an engineer because he was black — to motivate a group of unruly adolescents raised in a slum in early-1950s Britain, which was still slowly recovering from the austerity of the war years.

The students’ antisocial behavior, casual racism, penchant for violence and, worst of all, self-hatred horrify the new teacher, whose colleagues expect little of the pupils.

He takes them to museums and tells them about his childhood. Slowly, he gains their trust by showing respect and affection, which, for most of the students, have been in short supply. (The title of the book comes from an inscription his appreciative students wrote on a pack of cigarettes they gave him.) He also develops romantic feelings for another teacher, who, like the students, is white.

The memoir was praised for offering a sympathetic account of race and class without naïveté or excessive sentimentality.
Source: New York Times – Daily Newspaper; Posted 12-13-2016; retrieved 12-15-2016 from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/books/e-r-braithwaite-author-of-to-sir-with-love-dies-at-104.html?_r=1

VIDEO – Excerpt: ‘To Sir With Love’ (1967) – The Ending – https://youtu.be/nXaEf4ktpPA

Published on Apr 2, 2014 – The rather mawkish, sentimental ending of ‘To Sir, with love’ – Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) tears up his letter of acceptance for an engineering job, and decides to stay at the school.

See the link for the Full Movie in the Appendix below.

That book – To Sir With Love – in 1959 and the subsequent movie in 1967 was a great depiction of the struggles of Black people that migrated to America and the UK; (all of Western Europe for that matter). This was autobiographical. Despite the colonial heritage and the “One Empire” precept, Black immigrants were not treated kindly – “K.B.W.” was a popular phrase at that time: Keep Britain White – they were rejected and resisted in all corners of society of their new homes. These media works helped to convey that pain and suffering for the ordinary (Black) man who tried to move there.

These works were acclaimed and recognized with many awards:

Awards and honors

Laurel Awards


Directors Guild of America

Laurel Awards

10th Annual Grammy Awards

Other honors

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Source: Retrieved December 13, 2016 from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Sir,_with_Love

That world of 1959 (or 1967) was a hard existence for a Black man … of Caribbean heritage in America or in the UK. For E.R. Braithwaite to be so accomplished, despite the overbearing racism of the day, is a testament to his devotion to excellence and accomplishment.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean defines that the struggle and effort of this great media work – To Sir With Love – and its Author, a Guyana Diaspora-member, aligns with our movement. The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This CU strives to advance Caribbean image and culture with these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance.

A celebration of life for E.R. Braithwaite is also a celebration of Sidney Poitier (age 89), the starring actor of the movie ‘To Sir With Love‘. As Braithwaite was a Caribbean Diaspora-member – from Guyana – so too is Poitier, who is from the Bahamas. Poitier is equally accomplished; as reported in a previous Go Lean commentary, in 1964, Poitier won an Oscar for his performance in the movie ‘Lillies of the Field‘. Hollywood Star and Actress Ann Bancroft, presenting him the award during the telecast and gave him a peck on the cheek. Racial conservatives were outraged. Interracial marriage was still widely outlawed in different communities (think Southern US) and civil rights workers were being killed. Poitier’s Oscar was a symbol that things were changing.

This Go Lean roadmap seeks to change … the Caribbean (not the UK or the rest of the world), so that men (and women) of accomplishment do not have to leave their Caribbean homes to work their craft; they should be able to “work” at home. Our region has to be reformed and transformed to provide such advanced opportunities. The roadmap recognizes that a prerequisite for advancing society is a change in the Caribbean community ethos. Early in the book, the contributions of the arts and artists (music, film, theater and artistic expressions) are pronounced as an ethos for the entire region to embrace; this is identified in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 15) with this statement:

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts and music of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts and music in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

E.R. Braithwaite elevated the culture and image of African Caribbean people in refuge countries (UK and US), and thusly  elevated the Black image to the rest of the world. Perhaps this is his greatest legacy, presenting the viability that anyone, from anywhere, can impact his home and the rest of the world. Other Caribbean artists have thusly followed – think musical icon Bob Marley – and more will follow suit going forward. The Go Lean book has prepared a pathway for success for future generations of talented, inspirational and influential Caribbean artists. These ones are sure to emerge, and we want them to have the greatest impact on the world and on the Caribbean image further. We are thusly preparing for this, as specified in the same Declaration of Interdependence (Page 13) with this statement:

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

The CU represents the change that must be made in and to the Caribbean. The people, institutions and governance of the region are all urged to “lean-in” to this roadmap for change. We know it is important to highlight the positive contributions of Caribbean people, even their Diaspora.

The following list details the community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to foster future artists in the Caribbean:

Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Promote Intellectual Property Page 29
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Caribbean Vision Page 45
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Patents & Copyrights Page 78
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Culture Administration Page 81
Implementation – Ways to Impact Social Media Page 111
Advocacy – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Hollywood Page 203
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy – Ways to Improve the Arts Page 230
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Music Page 231

Previously, this blog-commentary composed other obituaries of role models whose life and legacy made an impact on Caribbean life. These are the previous submissions:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=9948 Caribbean Roots: Sammy Davis, Jr. – RIP
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=9813 Fidel Castro – RIP – Is Dead. Now What?
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8165 Role Model Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight – RIP
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6593 Dr. Mobley – Role Model as a BusinessSchool Dean – RIP
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2726 Caribbean Role Model – Oscar De La Renta – RIP
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1037 Role Model and Humanities Advocate – Maya Angelou – R.I.P.
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=866 Caribbean Musical Icon and Role Model: Bob Marley – RIP

E.R. Braithwaite impacted the world of popular culture … and then some. There was the book, movie and song all entitled To Sir With Love. We felt his impact on the world and we will all miss his presence; RIP. The world is a better place because he was here. He came; he saw; he conquered.

We must now carry on without him, but we are empowered by his role model. We now know that any Caribbean stakeholder, resident or Diaspora, can impact the world and their homeland to make it a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix VIDEO‘To Sir With Love’ (1967) – Watch the Full Movie – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89yJ6rIdibs

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