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Saturday: September 10, 2005

Dame Eugenia Charles, R.I.P.

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:06 PM UTC

The Brothers Judd note the passing of Dame Eugenia Charles, 86, “the former prime minister of Dominica, who gained widespread attention when she stood beside President Ronald Reagan as he announced the invasion of Grenada”. I remember her, and all the sneering lefties who treated her as a complete non-entity just because they’d never heard of her. I had heard of her before Grenada, but mostly as an answer to a political trivia question: who is the only black woman head of state [or head of government -- see comment 1] in the world? When it comes to modern nation-states as opposed to (e.g.) African kingdoms, I think she was probably the first, and she may still be the only one ever. Can anyone name another?


  1. Eugenia Charles was head of government as prime minister, not head of state.

    Other black women who have been heads of state in modern times are Carmen Pereira (acting president of Guinea-Bissau briefly in 1984); Ertha Pascal-Trouillot (interim president of Haiti, 1990-91); Sylvie Kinigi (acting head of state of Burundi, 1993-94); and Ruth Perry (chairman of the council of state of Liberia, 1996-97).

    Comment by Joshua — Sunday: September 11, 2005 @ 12:23 AM UTC

  2. Maybe I should have phrased that differently. I wasn’t trying to make a point about monarchs vs. prime ministers, just trying to use a term that would include both presidents and prime ministers, along with the occasional non-ceremonial monarch like Haile Selassie and the kings of Swaziland.

    As for the particular names, it’s interesting that the first three are all ‘acting’ or ‘interim’: were none of them elected to their positions, but just filling them briefly when someone else (i.e. some man) died, resigned, or was deposed? Is “chairman of the council of state of Liberia” the actual head of government?

    What struck me about Eugenia Charles was that there have been (I estimate) something between 100 and 200 black heads of government of nation-states around the world in the years since African and Caribean countries won independence, and a couple of dozen female heads of government in the same time period (Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, and Golda Meir being the most famous) but few, if any, who fell into both categories, other than Eugenia Charles.

    Comment by Dr. Weevil — Sunday: September 11, 2005 @ 12:37 AM UTC

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