Column: Celebrating MLK’s 95th Birthday

January 16, 2024 | 0 Comments

[Written by Glenn Fubler]

We gather to observe the 95th birthday of the late Martin Luther King. The local theme of this year’s observance is “Always Learning,” which captures the trajectory of MLK’s 39 years on the planet.

King always demonstrated an openness to learn. While excelling in formal schooling, Martin gained a deep understanding that every circumstance was a learning opportunity. With that humility, when 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to cooperate with segregation laws on a bus in Montgomery on March 2, 1955, both King and Rosa Parks absorbed a lesson from that circumstance, bearing fruit in December 1955, resulting in the iconic bus boycott.

Through the collaboration of many thousands subjected to segregation in Montgomery, they formed a learning community. They overcame tremendous challenges and faced enhanced terrorism for a year with the support of diverse people of conscience across the U.S.

That success inspired a nationwide movement with a global impact. Martin and other colleagues were learned up by diverse students: sit-ins; freedom rides, and anti-war protests. On April 4, 1967, MLK emerged with a new perspective against the U.S. war on Vietnam while resisting the status quo.

In Bermuda, during the mid-40s, the Bermuda Workers Association [BWA], led by Dr E.F. Gordon, initiated an island-wide petition campaign which drew lessons from the earlier suffragette movement, led by Gladys Morrell. Through that learning community, a broad appreciation for political, labour and other human rights was sown, leveraging a more just society.

In the early 50s, residents quietly initiated learning communities. One secretly published a document entitled: “An Analysis of Bermuda’s Social Ills,” enhancing grassroots awareness.

In 1959, other residents came together, forming the Progressive Group, and they spent several weeks imagining a better Bermuda. That process spawned the idea of a Theatre Boycott. Some PG members went on to form the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage, coordinated by Roosevelt – Pauluu Kamerafego-Brown, which leveraged the right to vote for all.

On this occasion, as we think globally and act locally, we highlight the contributions of the following who continue to demonstrate commitment to the better good:

  • Sandy Butterfield – Founder of Focus Counselling
  • Canon James Francis – Activist Clergyman both in the U.S. and in Bermuda
  • “Bermuda is Love” – Local group of younger people fostering community movement towards a Better Bermuda, a Better World.

In the spirit of many across the globe who – like MLK – remain open to always learning, the following personalities and stakeholders confirm their in-principle support:

  • Minister Owen Darrell – responsibility for Culture
  • Personal: Hon. Dennis Lister & Joan Dillas Wright
  • Dr Norma Astwood: former educator & senior civil servant
  • Dale Butler: former Government Minister & school Principal
  • Sonya Clarke – Acting Manager Career Development @ Workforce Devepment
  • Elizabeth DeJean-Saunders – former senior Counsellor at Cedarbridge
  • Sharon Francis-Dublin – former Assistant Principal at Berkeley Institute & Past- President of Elliott Alumnae Assoc.
  • Rev/Dr Leonard Santucci – Counsellor at Berkeley Institute & Pastor of Vernon Temple AME
  • Branwen Smith – Acting President of Bermuda College
  • Rev Dave Steele – Pastor Wesley Methodist Church
  • David Wingate – environmental champion
  • Joanne Wolmuth – social activist, former educator
  • Cummings Zuill – philanthropic activist

Supporting Stakeholders:

  • Adult Education School
  • Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo
  • Bermuda Chamber of Commerce
  • Bermuda High School
  • Bermuda National Trust
  • Bermuda Sloop Foundation
  • Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute
  • Bermuda Union of Teachers
  • Bermuda Youth Connect
  • Berkeley Institute
  • Cedarbridge Academy
  • Chewstick Foundation
  • Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda [CURB]
  • Human Rights Commission
  • Imagine Bermuda
  • Social Justice Bermuda
  • Somersfield Academy
  • Warwick Academy
  • African Diaspora Heritage Trail Foundation
  • AME Church
  • Anglian Church

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