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Walk remembers Nelson Mandela

Historian Clarence Maxwell recounts Bermuda's past to a gathering of walkers celebrating Nelson Mandela (Photograph supplied)

A community group braved heavy rain at the weekend to launch a commemoration of the life of Nelson Mandela, a peace activist and former president of South Africa.

The Walk Together event saw a dozen residents visit historical areas across Hamilton to celebrate Mr Mandela’s work for unity.

Glenn Fubler of Imagine Bermuda said there was a “wonderful” overview of the efforts by Friendly Society members in 1835 to liberate 72 enslaved Americans when the US ship The Enterprise stopped at the island.

Owen Darrell, chairman of the Progressive Labour Party, was able to trace his heritage back to those freed by a court judgment. The talk was delivered by human rights commissioner Ben Adamson.

The group visited the Recorder Building on Court Street, where Wentworth Christopher talked about the impact of the biweekly Recorder newspaper, which reported on the island’s black community.

Mr Christopher also discussed the contributions of St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, which founded the first secondary school for black youngsters and led to the creation of The Berkeley Institute.

Mr Christopher detailed the contributions of the church’s influential pastors, such as Vernon Byrd and Larry Lowe.

At the corner of Victoria and Union Streets, the group heard of the Manchester Unity Lodge, which played a major role in the construction of the Colonial Opera House.

The work of the Bermuda Retail Grocers Association, a multiracial co-operative effort, was also highlighted, along with the contribution of trades unions.

June Hill talked about the foundation of the Sunshine League in 1919, while Pastor Andre Bean told of the First Church of God’s links to black liberation visionary Marcus Garvey. Former MP John Barritt recounted his grandfather’s role in the Berkeley Educational Society.

Historian Clarence Maxwell described the struggle overcome by the founders of the Berkeley Institute, who started the island’s first school accessible to all in Court Street, next to what is now the Spinning Wheel.

A community dialogue will be held tonight at the Spinning Wheel from 6.30pm to 8pm.