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Fighter for equality’s book goes online at Curb website

David Critchley (File photograph)

A book by a pioneer antiracism activist is to go online.

The family of the late David Critchley has given permission for his book Shackles of the Past to be offered as a free download on the Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda website.

Mr Critchley, a white Bermudian, took a stand against discrimination in Bermuda in the 1950s.

He joined an underground group of activists to write a landmark document in secret, An Analysis of Bermuda’s Social Problems.

The pamphlet attacked the island’s property-based voting system and institutionalised racial segregation.

Coauthors included Wilfred Allen, Alphonso Blackett, Yvonne Blackett, Edward de Jean, Marion de Jean, Carol Hill, Georgine Hill, Hilton Hill senior, Leon Parris, Norman Pogson, Eva Robinson and Walter Robinson.

Mr Critchley helped print the pamphlet in Canada, and it was circulated in barber shops and other gathering places across Bermuda.

Mr Critchley graduated with a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Toronto in 1948.

He worked with disadvantaged youth in Toronto for several years and returned to Bermuda in 1951 to work as a government youth organiser.

Mr Critchley was credited with the desegregation of centres for the young, including the National Stadium.

But he later left the island for Canada, where his work for the next two decades included a post as an associate professor of social work at Dalhousie University in Halifax and was also a contributor to CBC Radio and TV.

Mr Critchley admitted the island’s racist environment had forced him to leave.

But he returned in 1972 to take up a position as Bermuda’s first Director of Social Services.

He spent the next 16 years employed by the government, and rose to Permanent Secretary for Health, Social Services, and Prisons.

His achievements included the creation of the Child Development Project in 1978 – now the Child Development Programme – for at-risk children and the appointment of Canadian David Archibald to head a Royal Commission on Drugs in 1983.

Mr Critchley published Shackles of the Past after he retired in 1989.

The book explored Bermuda’s continued racial divide and appealed to politicians to take steps to improve social policies.

Oxford University acquired a copy of the book in 2015, along with other books about race relations published in Bermuda.

Mr Critchley was among the people honoured by the Government’s Emancipation Committee in a ceremony at Ruth Seaton James Auditorium in 2016.

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Published May 14, 2021 at 3:23 pm (Updated May 15, 2021 at 10:21 am)

Fighter for equality’s book goes online at Curb website

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