Civil rights hero Hodgson honoured
Veteran civil rights campaigner Eva Hodgson admitted that she regretted not identifying white people who are featured in her book Second Class Citizens, First Class Men, during an evening to celebrate her life and work.
The race advocate, historian and author was speaking at a special lecture highlighting her contributions to her country at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters last night.
Veteran journalist Meredith Ebbin interviewed Dr Hodgson at the event organised by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs through its Bermudian Heartbeat Lecture.
The 93-year-old expanded on her comment about her seminal book: “I never read about black people and there were no black authors, so to author a book about black people I felt was something that needed to be done.”
When she was asked why she had not identified white people by name, not even trailblazers such as Dr Barbara Ball, she responded: “White people didn’t recognise blacks so I didn’t recognise whites. I do regret that I didn’t recognise the white people.”
There was standing room only at the Bermuda Industrial Union as a diverse crowd turned out to hear from the woman behind the activist.
Dr Hodgson was honoured in the annual Dr Kenneth E. Robinson/Cyril Outerbridge Packwood Memorial Lecture.
Minister for Sport and Social Development Michael Weeks introduced her as “the outspoken champion of race relations who had helped to shape so many of us”.
The event began with a short film by Milton Raposo of Method Media which included interviews with Curb president Lynn Winfield, who described Dr Hodgson as “an amazing mentor” and Maxine Esdaille of the Africa Diaspora Heritage Trail.
Beginning the conversation, Ms Ebbin asked Dr Hodgson what had originally sparked her interest in race equality, to which Dr Hodgson replied: “I lived in Bermuda.”
“My question,” she continued, “is why isn’t everybody interested in race equality? I was living in a segregated society.”
While many know her as a race advocate having founded the anti-racism organisation the National Organisation for Reconciliation and spoken widely on race, Dr Hodgson was a geography teacher at Berkeley Institute, former president of the newly amalgamated Bermuda Union of Teachers and was appointed an OBE in 2011 for her commitment to addressing racial inequality.
Dr Hodgson said, without pause, that of all the things she had accomplished in her life, preserving oral history was what she had enjoyed the most.
“I’m curious about people and it is interesting to have someone talk to you from their perspective.”
Asked whether she ever considered running for Parliament, Dr Hodgson responded: “No. I was too much of a coward. I don’t like to be defeated.”
Speaking on the future of race relations in Bermuda, Dr Hodgson did not appear particularly optimistic.
“The economic disparity is still very much there. We are flawed as human beings; we keep making the same mistakes and each generation has to fight for those reasons.
“Someone like [Rolfe] Commissiong might do it. What we need is positive, unabashed affirmative action policies. It is a dream of mine I don’t know if I would say it goes as far as hope.”
• This article initially stated that Eva Hodgson regretted not including white people in her book. It was corrected to say that Dr Hodgson regretted not identifying white people in her book. We apologise for the error.
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