Keith and Jennifer met in 1966, at the University of the West Indies where they were both students. It was there that Jennifer learned the academic side of colonialism and slavery. She was appalled. After graduation, the couple moved to England where they soon became personally acquainted with violent racism: Keith was attacked by Skinheads.
"They fractured his skull," Jennifer says, "broke multiple ribs and ruptured his spleen. Then left him for dead. But he wasn’t dead, not quite. Eventually, he made what we thought was a full recovery and we moved to Canada looking for a safer place to raise our biracial children, but shortly after our arrival … shockingly ... unexpectedly ... Keith died: a complication from the earlier head injury. Joanna was three, James not yet two. And I was 5-month pregnant."
"Four decades have not faded the image that was seared onto my soul the day of Keith's funeral: our three-year-old clutching dandelions she had picked for her daddy, the October sun transforming the lowly weeds into filigree globes of silver, and her curls into a halo of gold. The funeral had taught her that flowers mean 'I love you', but she was perplexed as to how to give them to her father. Trying to help, I blew some of the parachutes heavenwards. She watched them float back to earth, her bottom lip trembling.
And then she said,
"If I think really hard, can I think the flowers to daddy?'' "
Jennifer's university studies showed her the horror of racism in the Americas, but it was the deeply personal tragedy of losing Keith that demanded an answer to the haunting question: When is change going to come? Would it be in time for her own children? Those questions pushed her to write Dandelions in the Wind.
NOTE: In the making of this musical, Jennifer has transported her personal story of racism from Trinidad and England to the States because she wanted to shine a light on the appalling racism in America, and on the young people who sacrificed so much for justice and equality