Edwena Smith (1932-2018)
The late Edwena Smith has been saluted for her contribution to the fight for universal adult suffrage.
Ms Smith died this month at the age of 86 — just before the milestone commemorations today for the 50th anniversary of the 1968 General Election which marked the start of equal voting rights for all.
Ms Smith was known to generations of pupils at the Berkeley Institute as a Latin teacher and head of the school library.
She also taught English as a foreign language for about 20 years.
Ms Smith and her late husband, William Albert “Peter” Smith, were also prominent in the founding of the Progressive Labour Party.
Ms Smith also threw her support behind the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage in the 1960s, which sought to overturn restrictions on voting and end an extra vote for property owners.
Glenn Fubler, founder of community group Imagine Bermuda, said that Ms Smith had returned to Bermuda from university in 1959 just after the Theatre Boycott ended racial segregation.
Her activism started alongside that of her friends, including Florenz Maxwell and Roslyn Williams.
Mr Fubler said she had forged close ties with St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, and helped organise public meetings through its youth wing on universal adult suffrage.
Roosevelt Brown, an activist in the forefront in the battle for voting rights, joined the meetings and later became chairman of the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage.
Mr Fubler said that Ms Smith’s contributions through teaching, the Berkeley Educational Society and St Paul AME were “well documented” — but that her role with CUAS was less known.
MPs on both sides of Parliament paid tribute to Ms Smith last Friday.
Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, said he had been honoured to have Ms Smith as a teacher and later as a friend, while Sylvan Richards of the One Bermuda Alliance said she had taught his wife English 13 years ago.
Lovitta Foggo, government reform minister, added Ms Smith was “a teacher par excellence”.
Michael Scott and Rolfe Commissiong of the PLP associated themselves with condolences.
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin of the One Bermuda Alliance, said Ms Smith “saved me from myself as a fourth year student at the Berkeley Institute, when I was ejected from class because my mouth was too big”.
Several MPs demonstrated their Latin conjugation as a testament to their former teacher’s legacy.
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