by Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept. 22, 2022
The Time to Save Your Country: Philip S.W Goldson, Biography of a National Hero was penned by writer Lawrence Vernon and launched this Thursday, September 22. Vernon, who was commissioned by the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) to author the book, says that the biography has been some time in the making.
“It was commissioned in 2016, and then I did the research. We had a pause because of COVID, and NICH had a sort of financial pause, so we didn’t get back at it until last year,” explained Vernon to the media at the launch ceremony.
The extensive research that was done to prepare the Belizean hero’s biography was made possible in no small part by newspaper archives, particularly those of The Belize Billboard and The Daily Clarion, both of which were active during Philip Goldson’s life. Those periodicals, said Vernon, were very explicit in their descriptions, making it easy for him to ascertain what Goldson’s contemporaries said and felt about him. He also had help from Goldson’s relatives, including his sister, Maud Williams.
Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson was more than just a politician. He was the founding member of both of Belize’s major political parties as well as a member of the National Independence Party (NIP) and the National Alliance of Belizean Rights. He was an activist—most notably, one of the first politicians, along with Leigh Richardson, who went to jail for their beliefs, having been sentenced to one-year hard labor in prison for a seditious intention charge in 1951. He was also a gifted writer and a skilled journalist who was editor of The Belize Billboard.
As Lawrence Vernon explained to the media, Goldson was the first Belizean to accomplish a number of feats.
“He was the first Belizean to make a speech to the United Nations. The first politician in 1967. Some people thought it was George Price, but George Price didn’t make a speech to the UN until 1975,” said the author.
An article in the AMANDALA dated October 21, 2010, notes that Goldson was not recognized as a national hero until 2008, seven years after his death. Today, he is remembered fondly as one of Belize’s political pioneers.
Lawrence Vernon is a career librarian. He was recently honoured at the Belize @ 41 Awards with the Zee Edgell Prize for Literary Arts for his years of work as a writer and with the Belize National Library and Information Service. In his early years, Vernon had an affinity for writing short stories. Later on in life, he made a pivot towards research writing and began to pen books about Belizean politics and culture. In addition to The Time to Save Your Country: Philip S.W Goldson, Biography of a National Hero, Vernon is the author of A Narrative of Political Parties in Belize and several short stories.