Tributes Paid To Dr. Eva Hodgson

May 30, 2020

[Updated] Reflecting on the news of the passing of Dr. Eva Hodgson, Premier David Burt, today called her, “An incisive voice for change.”

Premier Burt said, “In clear and unmistakably honest terms, Dr. Hodgson told the story of Bermuda and the impact of its tortured history of race relations and economic inequality. Her intellect was devoted to enlightening and inspiring generations of Bermudians to not repeat the mistakes of the past but to strive for a better society in which race was no barrier to success.”

The Premier concluded, “On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda I express my sincere condolences to her family and especially her beloved brother, former Minister the Hon. Arthur D.O. Hodgson JP.”

OBA Leader Craig Cannonier said, “Dr. Eva Hodgson will be recorded by history as one of Bermuda’s leading social rights campaigners. In particular, history will highlight her tireless efforts to achieve social and economic parity for black people.

“Often outspoken and often vilified, Dr. Hodgson never faltered. I have no doubt that because of her efforts, Bermuda is a better place today. I have no doubt that many black Bermudians are now better off, socially and economically, because of Dr. Hodgson.

“She was generous with the time she gave to me, always willing to talk politics and always prepared to help and guide. In addition, some OBA MPs knew her many years ago and were guided by her.

“I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Dr. Hodgson’s family. While they will mourn her passing, I hope they can also celebrate a life spent helping others.”

OBA Deputy Leader Leah Scott said, “It is often said that prophet has no honor in his own country. So it can be said of Dr Eva Hodgson.

“Although we met and talked on occasion, I did not know Dr Hodgson well. The last time I saw her was in July of 2018 at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters, where she was honoured in the annual Dr Kenneth E. Robinson/Cyril Outerbridge Packwood Memorial lecture. There was standing room only, with people filling the hallways of the BIU to come to have ‘A conversation with Dr Eva Hodgson.’

“A film created and directed by Milton Raposo of Method Media, was shown, followed by an interview with Dr Hodgson by Ms Meredith Ebbin. One would not believe that Dr Hodgson was 93 years old. Her wit was in fine form, and her energy and zeal was unmatched.

“As founder of the National Organisation for Reconciliation, Dr Hodgson stated that she had spent a good part of her life addressing the racial divide and, that in 2018, she did not see that, as a country, we had made much progress. In her remarks, Dr Hodgson called on the Government of the day to have courage, determination and true commitment. to proceed with ‘pushing unabashedly affirmative-action policies.’

“In 2011 Dr Hodgson was awarded an OBE for her commitment to addressing racial inequality. In 2018, she rightfully determined that little progress had been made in terms of racial or addressing economic disparity. Here in 2020, economic equality and racial equality are all but pipe dreams and that is being viewed in real time on the world stage as protests enter into their fifth day, in respect of the inhumane senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Dr Hodgson’s life was an active demonstration of what she called on us to possess and live out – courage, determination and commitment. Well done to Bermuda’s good and faithful servant.”

Author and former Parliamentarian Dale Butler said, “Dr. Eva Hodgson dedicated her life to the cause that black people have had to endure. The uphill climb and struggle and the daily burden of life that few others have had to endure. For the one thing she dedicated her life to was not amiss..racism is real.

“I’m pleased to have been taught by her then to have worked with her as a colleague at Robert Crawford Secondary School where we started The Oral History Movement and later produced the second edition of her book “Second Class Citizens First Class Men” and published the first book on the 1959 theatre boycott, “A Storm in a Teacup”. May she rest in peace. My condolences are extended to her whole family.”

Update May 31, 9.56am: A PLP spokesperson said, “The officers and members of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of one of Bermuda’s most prolific warriors in the fight for civil rights and racial equality, the indomitable Dr Eva Naomi Hodgson, OBE.

“Dr Hodgson was a fierce advocate for racial equality in Bermuda. She was also a fierce critic of organizations and governments that she felt did not do enough to advance the cause of racial equality. This advocacy often resulted in her being targeted for being too “racial”, or too controversial. However, in 2020, locally and globally, we still see evidence of the racial scourge to which she often spoke. The officers and members of the PLP remain committed to equality and ensuring that race is not a barrier to success in Bermuda.

“As an educator and author, she took the opportunity to tell the stories of racial inequality in Bermuda and educate her readers. Dr Hodgson was educated at the Queen’s University where she received her undergraduate degree, and then subsequently received her Diploma in Education and Honours degree in Geography from London University. She taught at The Berkeley Institute and was the first President of the Amalgamated Bermuda Union of Teachers. Dr Hodgson also studied at Columbia University where she received two Master’s Degrees, and then her PhD in African History and Black American History. Dr Hodgson was the author of the acclaimed book Second Class Citizens, First Class Men which spoke to the political and social conditions in Bermuda in the 1950s and 1960s. Dr Hodgson’s advocacy to address racial problems motivated the UBP Government to establish CURE [Commission for Unity and Racial Equality] in the early 1990s; it would be merged with the Human Rights Commission [HRC] in 2010.

“While Dr Hodgson achieved much, it is clear she also sacrificed much by being an outspoken critic and campaigner for racial and social equality. It would have been much easier for her had she complied with the status quo, but that’s not what warriors do. We celebrate the contributions that the venerable Dr Eva Hodgson made to our island home, and we celebrate her life and all she gave to Bermuda. We join her family in mourning her loss and we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

“Sleep in peace Dr Hodgson.”

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