Celebrating Our Bermuda National Heroes

June 19, 2017

Bermuda is celebrating National Heroes Day today [June 19], honouring those who have made “significant positive contributions to the growth and development of society,” with Bermuda’s National Heroes including Dame Lois Browne-Evans, Dr. E.F. Gordon, Dr. Pauulu Kamarakafego, Sir Henry Tucker, Mary Prince, Gladys Morrell, Sir E.T. Richards, and Sir John Swan.

1496756733_Natl Heroes Day 2017 Colour

“A National Hero is someone who beyond that has made significant positive contributions to the growth and development of society, and represents all of us,” the Department of Community & Cultural Affairs said.

“To know our heroes is to know ourselves: our values, our collective history, who we are, and what makes us as Bermudians great. Acknowledging our heroes is an acknowledgement of who we are – of our history, heritage, and culture.

“National Heroes Day is celebrated each year on the third Monday in June. The purpose is to honour those persons who have been officially designated as National Heroes in Bermuda.

“The National Hero designation is a lifetime honour that is bestowed, and once a person is named as a National Hero he or she will be a National Hero forever.”

The Department of Community & Cultural Affairs National Heroes Day poster [PDF here]:

1496681189_Natl Heroes Day 2017

The information below is courtesy of the Department of Community & Cultural Affairs.

Dame Lois Browne- Evans [1927–2007]

  • First female lawyer in Bermuda
  • First black woman elected to Parliament
  • Fought tirelessly for a more equitable society
  • First female Opposition Leader in Bermuda and in the Commonwealth
  • First female Attorney General
  • A powerful orator who served in Parliament for 40 years

Dr. Edgar Fitzgerald Gordon [1895–1955]

  • Physician who came to Bermuda from Trinidad in 1924
  • Member of Parliament and founding father of the labour movement
  • Considered one of the most important leaders of 20th Century Bermuda
  • President of the Bermuda Workers Association, the forerunner of the Bermuda Industrial Union
  • Made the BWA a force for social and political change through his dynamic leadership
  • Author of the landmark 1946 BWA petition, which called for end to segregation and other injustices
  • Championed the cause of blacks and Bermudian workers of both races

Dr. Pauulu Kamarakafego [1932–2007]

  • Civil rights leader and political activist
  • Played key role in the fight to abolish the property vote as founder of the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage
  • Ecological engineer
  • Member of Parliament
  • Worked in Vanuatu and other countries in the developing world
  • Consultant to the United Nations
  • First Recipient of the Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Award

Sir Henry Tucker [1903–1986]

  • Banker and Member of Parliament
  • Piloted the bill that gave Bermudian women the right to vote in Parliament in 1944
  • Considered the architect of modern Bermuda
  • A founding father of international business
  • Oversaw Bermuda’s transition to a modern democracy
  • First Government Leader of Bermuda
  • Founder of the United Bermuda Party

Mary Prince [Born circa 1788 ]

  • Born into slavery in Devonshire
  • Endured harsh treatment and abuse in Bermuda, Turks Island and Antigua
  • Her groundbreaking autobiography, The History of Mary Prince, was published in London in 1831
  • The first British woman to publish a slave narrative
  • The narrative is the only first-hand account of slavery by a Bermudian
  • Is regarded internationally as an unsung heroine of the abolition movement

Gladys Morrell [1888–1969]

  • Got her start as a suffragette as an activist in the UK
  • Nursed wounded soldiers in France during the First World War
  • Founder of the Bermuda Woman Suffragette Society
  • Led the 25-year battle for women’s voting rights in Bermuda
  • Fought for better health care and college scholarships for women
  • Co-founder of the district nursing system
  • Donated land now known as Gladys Morrell Nature Reserve as open space

Sir Edward Trenton Richards [1908–1991]

  • Came to Bermuda from British Guiana in 1930 to teach at The Berkeley Institute
  • Challenged segregation as editor of the Bermuda Recorder
  • Fought to end social, racial and political injustice as a lawyer and Member of Parliament
  • Bermuda’s first black leader and Premier
  • First black man in Bermuda to receive a knighthood
  • Was Premier when the Island was rocked by the assassination of Governor Sir Richard Sharples
  • Negotiated changes to the Constitution that led to new titles and names: Premier, MP and Cabinet

Sir John W. Swan [Born 1935]

  • The Distinction of being the longest serving Premier of Bermuda.
  • Successfully completed the negotiations of the United States and Bermuda Tax Convention.
  • Negotiated a treaty between the United States and United Kingdom that would benefit Bermuda by establishing the Island as a major Offshore Financial Centre.
  • Founder of John W. Swan Agency, a real estate development, savings and loan company.
  • Helped to modernize the architectural landscape of the City of Hamilton.
  • A real estate developer, political luminary and philanthropist.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Onion Juice says:

    I guess its who you ask that is a Hero.

  2. frank says:

    Well how come no one is named for this year

  3. sid says:

    In its 400-year history, most of Bermuda’s heroes are former politicians from the last 50 years. Isn’t that amazing?!?

    This holiday is simply a politician-invented excuse for politicians to tell us how great politicians are.

    Why don’t we just call it “Summer Holiday” or “Carnival Day” and forget politicized hero-naming? Or call it “Constitution Day” to celebrate the first democratic constitution?