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Vere bird

The meaning of «vere bird»

Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, KNH (9 December 1910 – 28 June 1999) was the first Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. His son, Lester Bryant Bird, succeeded him as Prime Minister. In 1994 he was declared a national hero.

He was an officer in the Salvation Army for 2 years. In 1943, he became the president of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union. He achieved national acclaim politically for the first time when he was elected to the colonial legislature in 1945. He formed the Antigua Labour Party and became the first and only chief minister, first and last premier, and first prime minister from 1981 to 1994. His resignation was due to failing health and internal issues within the government.

In 1985 Antigua's international airport, which was first named Coolidge, was renamed V.C. Bird International Airport in his honour.

Bird was born in a poor area of St John's, the capital. Unlike most of his giant political contemporaries – such as Norman Manley of Jamaica and Sir Grantley Herbert Adams of Barbados, who were distinguished lawyers, and Trinidadian Eric Williams, a scholar – Bird had little formal education except primary schooling. He attended the St. John's Boys School, now known as The T.N. Kirnon Primary School.

Bird was an officer in the Salvation Army for two years interspersing his interests in trade unionism and politics. He gave up the Salvation Army because he saw the way the landowners were treating the local black Antiguans and Barbudans, so he decided to leave his post to fight for the freedom of his people.

When the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (ATLU) was formed in 1939, Bird was an executive member. By 1943 he had become president of the union and was leading a battle for better working conditions and increased pay against the white sugar barons. The union entered electoral politics for the first time in 1946 and Bird won, in a by-election, a seat in the legislature and was appointed a member of the Executive Council.

When universal adult suffrage was introduced here in 1951, the ATLU, under the banner of the Antigua Labour Party, won all seats in the legislature, a feat it repeated until 1967, making Antigua a country with a multi-party system but with freely voted one-party control. The ministerial system was introduced in 1956 and the Governor gave Bird the trade and production portfolio, and when further constitutional advancement came in 1960, he was named Chief Minister.

In 1967, Antigua became the first Eastern Caribbean island to receive the associated statehood constitution from Britain that gave internal self-government but with London remaining responsible for foreign policy and defence.

Bird, radical in his younger days, had been shifting to the right, and in the face of severe social unrest that forced a split in the ATLU in 1967 and rioting in 1968, the ATLU lost its tight hold of Antigua and Barbuda politics. Out of the split, the Antigua Workers Union was formed and later the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM), and Bird decided to resign because he felt it was not right to hold both positions.

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