Phyllis Thomas’s I Dare You a great read for journalists, history lovers

“ROYALTY of journalism” is how Dr Marlene Street Forrest, managing director of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), described veteran journalist and newly minted author Phyllis Thomas.

Dr Street Forrest was the guest speaker at the launch of Thomas’s book, I Dare You — A Climb to The Pinnacle of Journalism at the JSE in downtown, Kingston on Sunday April 30.

Thomas, she said, pulled no punches in tracing her family’s humble beginnings in her book that tells the story of her long years in journalism — over four decades — interspersed with vivid descriptions of the poverty which haunted her childhood.

Philosophically Thomas, who is now retired after a lifetime at The Gleaner, explained that the book spoke of that poverty because of what it has done for her family — not to her family.

“These experiences provided the refiner’s fire most Jamaicans go through but are too afraid to speak about as it may ruin their now-elevated status,” Dr Street Forrest said.

She noted that the stories in the book provided more than a peek into Jamaica’s history from the 1970s to the 2000s.

“As I turned the pages I wondered whether this book couldn’t double as a four-decade history of Jamaica.”

The JSE head added that this autobiography is complex because it is also a scholarly work in an ever-changing time.

The launch was attended by members of Swallowfield Chapel including the pastor of the church, David Henry; Thomas’s family, including her 99-year-old mother; several distinguished journalists and other well-wishers.

A calm, affable journalist who is admired by her colleagues, Thomas has given birth to a book, produced by Bambusparks, that captures the essence of the Jamaica she grew up in from teenage to womanhood, and captured through her pen, making it a must-read especially for younger journalists.