UK woman donates US$500,000 to UWI as ‘personal reparation’

Bridget Freeman has bequeathed her estate to The UWI

Bridget Freeman was watching a series about the Atlantic slave trade and was appalled at the brutish system. Freeman, who is in her 70s, had lived in the United Kingdom for most of her life. She knew very little about the enslavement of Africans and the impacts it has had on their descendants.

“I was horrified and it touched me and I thought dear God, this is not right” she said.

So, she decided that she wanted to do something now. Freeman has bequeathed her properties worth US$500,000 to The University of the West Indies (UWI), through its Global Giving campaign.

The accomplished musician’s grand piano is also being kept in tune for the Cave Hill Campus as a contribution to the University’s new Faculty of Culture, Creative and Performing Arts.

“It is about reparation” she said. “We owe it. Once you see the ships of the slave trade, the giving back just seems so obvious”.

Freeman said made the decision about her legacy on the advice of her late husband and a former sister-in-law.

“My late husband said: ‘you’ve got to do the right thing’.  There was always a feeling of what do I do with all I have? The young people in the family are doing alright and they don’t need a step-up,” said Freeman. 

She did some research and was led to The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and its Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, Elizabeth Buchanan Hind.

Hinds is the Chair of UWI Global Giving—the regional university’s annual crowdfunding campaign which was established in 2016. The UWI Global Giving is held every year under the theme “Emancipate, Educate, Donate,” and is grounded in The UWI’s vision to facilitate an ‘access revolution’ for higher education in the Caribbean. It calls on the support of regional and international alumni, partners, the diaspora and friends to give. Over the past five years, this giving campaign has become part of The UWI’s culture. 

Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said the University community welcomes Freeman’s generous endowment, describing it as “an honourable demonstration of personal reparation and moral leadership on behalf of her family”.