Grenada Revolution Timeline

The Grenada Revolution officially began on March 13th, 1979 when the New Jewel Movement, led by Maurice Bishop, overthrew Grenada’s Prime Minister Eric Gairy.  The revolution would last for 4½ years.

What follows is a timeline of the major events that occurred during the Grenada Revolution.

NJM is Born

August 17, 1970

Two organizations, MAP and JEWEL, join forces and become the New Jewel Movement.  Maurice Bishop and Unison Whiteman are the organization’s Co-Secretaries.

Operation Urgent Fury

August 18, 1970

The USA leads an invasion of Grenada

Bloody Wednesday

August 18, 1970

A crowd releases Maurice Bishop from house arrest and heads to Fort Rupert.

Joint Leadership?

August 18, 1970

During a NJM Central Committee meeting, Liam James proposes that Maurice Bishop share leadership of the NJM with Bernard Coard.

Bishop Meets Fidel

August 18, 1970

Bishop makes an unscheduled visit to Cuba. Bishop is the guest of honor at a dinner hosted by Castro in Havana

Bishop Back in Grenada

August 18, 1970

Maurice Bishop returns to Grenada

Bishop leaves Grenada

August 18, 1970

Maurice Bishop leaves Grenada for a scheduled trip to Eastern Europe.

NJM Takeover

August 18, 1970

During an early-morning takeover, the NJM overthrows Gairy’s GULP government and the Grenada Revolution begins.

House Arrest!

August 18, 1970

Bishop returns to his Mount Wheldale home and discovers his phone line disconnected and his home under surveillance.  He is under house arrest.

George Louison Expelled!

August 18, 1970

At the weekly Political Bureau meeting, George Louison is expelled from the NJM Central Committee and Political Bureau.

The Rumor

August 18, 1970

A rumor that Bernard Coard and Phyllis Coard are trying to have Maurice Bishop killed is circulating among Grenada and wreaking havoc.  Maurice Bishop is accused of initiating the rumor – he denies being the source.

Secret Meeting #1

August 18, 1970

At a secret meeting at Fort Frederick, hand-picked members of Maurice Bishop’s security force are told that Bishop has betrayed the Revolution and that their loyalty is to the Central Committee.

NJM Takeover

August 18, 1970

NJM Overthrows Eric Gairy’s government

Fort George becomes Fort Rupert

August 18, 1970

Fort George, the PRA headquarters, is renamed to Fort Rupert in honor of Rupert Bishop, the slain father of Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop

Bishop agrees to joint leadership

August 18, 1970

Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop agrees to the NJM joint leadership proposal

Where is Bishop?

August 18, 1970

Reports about Bishop’s arrest appear in regional media and press although no official statement is made by the NJM or the PRG.

Coard Resignation

August 18, 1970

4:00PM – Radio Free Grenada announces the resignation of Bernard Coard from the PRG as Minister of Finance…not from the NJM


August 18, 1970

Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard, initiates negotiations with George Louison, Unison Whiteman and Selwyn Strachan in an effort to end the ongoing crisis, however, the meeting is interrupted by news of Pro-Bishop demonstrations in St. George’s.


August 18, 1970

Pro-Bishop supporters, Fitzroy Bain and Kenrick Radix, lead a demonstration in St. Georges protesting Bishop’s house arrest.

Foreign journalists covering the protested are expelled from the country and outside journalists are denied entry into Grenada at Pearls Airport.

Radix Arrested

August 18, 1970

After leading a Pro-Bishop demonstration in St. George’s, Kenrick Radix is arrested for being a ‘counter-revolutionary’

Cornwall Radio Broadcast

August 18, 1970

6:00PM – Leon Cornwall makes a broadcast on Radio Free Grenada

Austin’s Radio Broadcast

August 18, 1970

Shortly after midnight, General Hudson Austin makes an early morning radio broadcast on Radio Free Grenada defining the official NJM position on the crisis.  He and presents several accusations against Maurice Bishop.

The Rest of the World

August 18, 1970

Outside of Grenada:

  • The Boston Globe and several US papers run stories about Hudson’s broadcast
  • The US State department meets to discuss developments in Grenada
  • The Barbados Defense Force puts together a plan to rescue Bishop
  • Fidel Castro sends a letter of ‘deep concern’ to Bernard Coard about the party’s division.

In Grenada:

  • Several key NJM members formally submit their resignation
  • Grenadians grow concerned about Bishop’s absence and threaten to strike if they don’t see him.

Mediation & Protests

August 18, 1970

Michael Als, a mediator from Trinidad meets with Maurice Bishop (who is still under house arrest).  They talk for more than two (2) hours.

Pro-Bishop demonstrations are held across Grenada

After meeting with Bernard Coard in a series of conflict resolution talks for the past three (3) days, George Louison is arrested.

Late that evening, a handful of Central Committee members submit a proposal to Maurice Bishop.

Torchlight Closed

October 13, 1979

The NJM shuts down the Torchlight, Grenada’s only independent newspaper.

Demonstration in St. Georges

October 15, 1983

Kenrick Radix and Fitzroy Bain lead a street demonstration demanding Maurice Bishop’s release.

More Demonstrations

October 18, 1983

Pro-Bishop demonstrations are held throughout Grenada. 

About the Author
Debbie is the founder and host of 'The Caribbeanist'