Video: Interview With Averylon ‘Chick’ Simons

April 3, 2018

[Written by Glenn Fubler]

As we approach Wednesday, April 4th, the 50th anniversary of the demise of Martin Luther King who is world-renowned for giving voice to a transformational dream, we are reminded of local champions.

Out of the number of people whose vision and principled action moved our society forward over the centuries, the Progressive Group is perhaps the most comparable to the King- legacy. Let’s look at the story of one of that small, community group.

Clifford Maxwell returned to Bermuda in the mid- 50’s with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics; but more importantly, with a passion to share that skill and help to transform his Island – home. He had graduated from St. Francis Xavier University near Halifax, where ‘The Antigonish Movement’ had started in the early 20th Century.

Clifford became immersed as a student-activist in this movement which championed the idea of promoting economic and social justice for the less-fortunate in the maritimes of Canada, by way of ‘cooperative action’.

Upon his return to Bermuda, Clifford took a teaching-post in the newly-completed Bermuda Technical Institute and also spent much time tutoring adults in evening sessions. He was living out a part of his dream which had been fostered while at university.

The whole dream came together when the Progressive Group [PG] was formed in 1959, by his good friend, Stanley Ratteray. Clifford served as something of a ‘quarterback’ for that campaign – making use of those skills he had gained in the Antigonish Movement.

From the PG’s first meeting, those 15 or so, mostly 20-somethings, spent considerable time and effort reflecting on how a better Bermuda could look. They dreamed a vision of an island which nurtured the potential of all people. It was in that frame of mind that the idea of the ‘Theatre Boycott’ surfaced and the rest is history.

Clifford appreciated that possessing a vision, fostering dreams, then taking mindful action as result, promotes the growth of individuals and communities.

He often passed this understanding on to his students, as recounted of by Averylon ‘Chick’ Simons, one of Clifford’s ‘Tech’ students during the ‘60’s. ‘Chick’ recalls Clifford giving his Math class a project of writing out a vision for themselves for the next decade or so.

It was that exercise that ‘Chick’ credits with leveraging his progress as a student and later in his career. This came together with the timing of being employed by the then-monopoly BTC which catapulted Chick to success at some of the best universities – e.g. MIT’s Sloan School.

He eventually reached the level of Vice President of BTC, an achievement that one would have thought had been beyond those dreams, when he had started as an apprentice, decades before.

‘Chick’ had a copy of that vision at his fingertips up to a couple of years ago – some 50 years after its completion. ‘Chick’s’ story is one of many that speaks to the ‘Power of Dreams’.

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  1. Mary Lodge says:

    Thank you Glenn for your inspiring leadership.

    • Good work, now just imagine how far advanced we would’ve been if we had access to the economic, social and buisness sector.