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Berkeley literary challenge to mark fight for equal rights

Berkeley Institute pupils get ready to read Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell as part of the One Island, One Book project (Photograph supplied)

A secondary school has challenged the public to take part in an island-wide reading festival to celebrate the fight for racial justice in Bermuda.

The Berkeley Institute will lead the charge in the One Island, One Book project by having pupils and staff read Girlcott by Florenz Webbe Maxwell, a member of the Progressive Group, which campaigned for an end to segregation on the island and equal rights.

Ingrid Applewhaite, a member of Berkeley’s English Studies department, said Girlcott was chosen because it was “historical, relevant, Bermudian, accessible and it is a novel that both youth and adults can read and enjoy”.

She added: “More excitingly, the author of Girlcott lives among us.”

The reading drive will also feature the Bermuda Reads with Berkeley scheme, where people of all ages can read the book alongside Berkeley pupils for eight weeks.

The programmes will also feature activities every week to help readers become involved in the story.

Prizes will also be given to people who take part in the Bermuda Reads with Berkeley activities at the end of each week.

Girlcott tells the story of Desma Johnson, a Black Bermudian girl, who finds her voice during the 1959 Theatre Boycott.

The boycott, organised by the Progressive Group, sparked a wave of protests that saw the walls of segregation tumble down.

One Island, One Book will start next Tuesday, the beginning of Black History Month, and will end with a Heritage Month reception on May 7 to honour Ms Maxwell.

Weekly activities for Berkeley pupils and staff will include a round table discussion with surviving members of the Progressive Group and a Girlcott-inspired “back to the 50s” fair.

Bermuda Reads with Berkeley events will be publicised through the media, including The Royal Gazette.

A Facebook page has also been set up so that participants can take part in the activities.

Girlcott is available at The Bookmart in Brown & Co on Front Street, Hamilton.

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Published January 26, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated January 26, 2022 at 7:50 am)

Berkeley literary challenge to mark fight for equal rights

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