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JAMAICA



Date July 20, 2005 Compliments of the Nation News


by PHILIP SPOONER

BEFORE Denzel Washington, Cuba Gooding Jr, Mos Def, and Ice Cube, there was Lou Gossett Jr.

The famed Academy Award-winning actor, one of the pioneers of the fight for Blacks in the movie industry, was in Barbados and he loved every moment of it.

He made stops at Sandy Lane, had a few days at Royal Pavilion, played golf at Barbados Golf Club and Sandy Lane and was feted by fans at the Ship Inn.

The 69-year-old who in 1983 won Best Supporting role in An Officer And A Gentleman, had a message for black Bajans and all people of African descent. In that movie, which also starred Richard Gere, Gossett played as the drill sergeant.

"We are kings and queens," said the eloquent Gossett, who cuts a sharp figure with his 6-foot-4-inch frame and shaven head. "It's a roller coaster for us . . . . it's like an obstacle course.

"The natural resource of the world is the Third World people. Those who were oppressed are the ones to take the world forward."

Gossett was in Barbados as part of the launch of the Kevin Weekes Foundation for young sportspersons on the island. Weekes, the only black goalie in the National Hockey League in the United States and Canada, was born in Toronto to Bajan parents. He plays for the New York Rangers.

"I want to pay full attention to our young people. They have been taken from the mainstream because of the way things have been. Things are no longer that way today, but they don't know it, so they make immature decisions," said Gossett, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, after his family moved from The Bahamas.

"I am at a certain age where I want to leave a legacy to the next generation. We must reconnect to who we are. I sleep better by doing whatever I can to educate people, and any 'excuse' to come to the Caribbean is great for me. This is my home.

"The history of us from Africa, through the islands, all the way to America needs to be explained properly. Our children need to know their passage and the fact that they are kings and queens. When they know this, they will behave better."

His aim is to document the rich African heritage and Caribbean culture and make it available "to guide, teach and inspire" young people.

Gossett, who also appeared in the famous Roots, is preparing to shoot Caribbean Manhunt in Jamaica next month. The film is based on the trafficking of drugs from Colombia via the Caribbean into the United States.

The other lead actor is the well-liked Morris Chestnut. They will play Miami police detectives battling the drug traffickers and as Gossett comically puts it: "I'll be the young one learning."

* philipspooner@nationnews.com




 

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