Winston Bernard Coard was born in 10 August 1944 in Victoria, St. Mark's parish. Bernard was one of seven children, six boys and one girl, of the late Frederick McDermott Coard. Coard's mother, the late Flora Fleming Coard, spent her last days in a Grenada nursing home before she died 21 July 2004. Her son Bernard was temporarily released from Richmond Hill Prison to attend her funeral. Bernard Coard's siblings are the late Robert M. Coard formerly of Boston, Floyd Coard of Los Angeles and Grenada, Leonard Coard of Madison, NJ, Errol Coard of Boston, George Coard of Grenada and the late Ena Coard Squires, formerly of Boston.
In the mid-sixties, when retired from the colonial service, Frederick McDermott 'McKie' Coard, J.P. was a civil servant and worked for Rupert Bishop's import business. Bernard's father Frederick is the author of "Bitter-Sweet and Spice: These Things I Remember," Arthur H. Stockwell Ltd., ©1970.
From young boys, Bernard Coard and Maurice Bishop had been friends. Bernard and Maurice Bishop, in 1962, formed the Grenada Assembly of Youth After Truth.
Bernard Coard attended Palmer Public Elementary School and 6 years at the Grenada Boys Secondary School [GBSS]. Bernard Coard and Maurice Bishop did not attend the same secondary school. Bernard Coard went to GBSS and Maurice Bishop went to Presentation Boys College [PBC].
Bernard Coard taught at GBSS before going to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sociology in 1966. Following this, Coard studied for five years in England. Entering university September 1966, Coard received a Master of Arts degree in Comparative Political Economy at Sussex University the summer of 1967. In that same year, he authored a paper titled The Political Economy of Underdevelopment.
Coard ran youth clubs in South East London, between that summer of 1967 and December 1970, as a Youth and Community Development officer, running evening schools for ESN students. He taught school for two years at two ESN [Educationally SubNormal] Schools in East London. In Britain, in 1971, Bernard Coard researched and wrote How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System: The Scandal of the Black Child in Schools in Britain. From May to September of 1971, he writes, he addressed between three and five groups, each weekday afternoon and evening, and on weekends, of West Indian parents concerned about their children's education. Parental leaning and discussion tackled the issues of the book,published by New Beacon Books [John LaRose], supported by Bogle L'Ouverture [Jessica Huntley].
After research in Latin America, Coard completed his doctorate in Political Economy.
Coard held membership in the Communist Party, U.S.A.; the British Communist Party, and Jamaica's pro-Moscow Workers Liberation League led by Trevor Munroe (later named the Workers Party of Jamaica). One source reported that in August 1973 Coard was asked to work with approving the final draft of the Manifesto of the NJM.
Bernard Coard was a visiting lecturer at the IIR (Institute of International Relations), UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad from 1972-1974. During the interim period, traveling often to Grenada, he wrote under the name Chris Holness. He returned permanently to Grenada in 1976 from a lecturing position at the Jamaica campus of the University of the West Indies.
Independence talks in the UK, called the 1973 Grenada Constitutional Conference, during the period 14-18 May 1973 included Gairy, Blaize and Bernard Coard. Coard was one of the organizers and contributors to the conference Independence for Grenada: Myth or Reality 11-13 January 1974, published from the conference location in St. Augustine, Trinidad. He had been lecturing in government and management at UWI in Jamaica, Mona campus, 1974-1976. Some assume that Bernard Coard and his wife Phyllis became aligned with Jamaican scholar and head of the Worker's Liberation League [WLL] Trevor Munroe during this time in Jamaica.
The purpose of his return to Grenada in September, 1976 was to run as a New Jewel Movement candidate from St. George's as a Popular Alliance elector. The general election results of 7 November 1976 included one winner: Town of St. George's, Bernard Coard, running on the People's Alliance ticket.
Coard is reported to have joined up with the existing OREL [Organization for Research, Education and Liberation] in September 1976. Coard was active in NJM during 1976. OREL meetings came to a close in 1978, and that same year Bernard Coard became head of NJM's organizing committee.
Bernard Coard, often called 'B' by his fellow comrades, is reported to have travelled to Cuba 2-5 July 1977.
Coard was part of the attack strategy of 13 March 1979, and voted to go ahead with the attack, along with Austin and Einstein Louison.
As a 14-person member of the Provisional Revolutionary Government named 16 March 1979, Bernard Coard was appointed by Maurice Bishop, at a 25 March 1979 rally, Minister of Finance, Trade and Industry. At that time no Secretaries to this Ministry were announced.
Coard set the stage for formal relations with the USSR on a PRG-sponsored trip to Moscow May-June 1980. Coard, also known as 'Hopper' visited the 26th Congress of the Soviet Union with Trevor Munroe in February of 1981. Bernard Coard was Politburo member, an Organizing Committee member, a Central Committee member until his resignation in October, 1982. At the 12-15 October 1982 CC meeting Coard said the decision to resign from the Political Bureau and the Central Committee was taken 6 months previously [April 1982]. Coard continued as a member of the New Jewel Movement political party and his ministerial duties within the Peoples Revolutionary Government. He was present at the important 25 September 1983 Central Committee Meeting.
There is backtracking on the character of Bernard Coard as the master-minder of evil that led to the tragedy of October 1983. Commentary, innuendo and out-right attack on this matter can be found in many accounts of this period, some accounts influenced by the US Psy-Ops Team. Some people derisively called Bernard Coard by the initials 'V.I.', a take-off on the initials of Vladimir Illyich Lenin.
A short summary by the late Kenrick Radix from his printed interview Kenrick Radix and George Louison Discuss Internal Events Leading to the U.S. Invasion of Grenada, from the Grenada Foundation Inc, ©1984, contains a commentary that sums up the effect of Bernard Coard on some fellow comrades within the NJM and PRG:
In 1978, there was some dissatisfaction with his [Coard's] performance because he introduced a new style of leadership into the party leadership. Politely, it could be called lobbying, but more accurately I would call it a type of subversion, canvassing, infighting. Instead of collective consideration and amendment of various proposals, he would arrive with an already worked out package, and through force of personality, convince the others to accept it. This fundamentally conflicted with collective functioning, and was not received well. An attempt was made to remove him, but the move was stalled with the personal intercession of Bishop.
At one point in October 1982, Bernard Coard resigned from everything - his position on the Central Committee, the Political Bureau and the Organizing Committee. Since 19 August 1978, Coard had chaired the Organizing Committee, concerned with the daily running of the NJM. He continued as Deputy Prime Minister and remained focused on the economy as Finance Minister. After Bishop was put under house arrest, Bernard Coard resigned again from government, but not from the party. He appeared to retreat into the woodwork. Some say he was there all the time.
After U.S. forces landed in Grenada, Bernard and Phyllis Coard, Selwyn Strachan, John Ventour, Liam James and Keith Roberts were found by U.S. troops in a Mt. Parnassus house, 29 October 1983.
Bernard Coard is married to Phyllis Evans Coard. Their children are Sola, born in 1971; Abiola, born in 1972 and Neto, born in 1979.
Bernard Coard was one of four prisoners interviewed in 1999 on GBN by Leslie Pierre and others. He was released from Richmond Hill Prisons 5 September 2009. See Grenada 17.