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A day of celebration

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Where it all began: members of the Progressive Group, which forged the way for the Theatre Boycott 60 years ago, were honoured last weekend at an event at the Earl Cameron Theatre in City Hall

On Friday, June 14 — Freedom Friday — a diverse gathering of 150 or so took place in City Hall’s Earl Cameron Theatre for 60 minutes in Celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Theatre Boycott.

The appropriateness of the venue was noted, given that it is only yards away from Ground Zero during June 1959 and Earl Cameron’s trailblazing role in Britain as a movie actor.

The foyer with numerous health professionals facilitating the “Wellness Check-In” made the greeting special.

After being welcomed by co-hosts Ellen-Kate Horton and yours truly, there was an opening prayer by Progressive Group member the Reverend Erskine Simmons.

Those in attendance then received a special treat with a song by 12-year-old BHS student Indigo Adamson, who gave us Dream a Dream, using her powerfully operatic voice.

A roll call was made of those Progressive Group members present, as well as representatives of those others who had made significant contributions to the boycott. They were given a standing ovation by the audience.

The Premier, David Burt, then made a very appropriate presentation. He highlighted both the contribution of the Progressive Group and those who responded peacefully in the streets to the boycott call — six decades ago. The Premier noted that it was the diversity of response — everyone doing their part — that made the iconic event an historic success, providing a platform of progress for future generations.

The Opposition leader, Craig Cannonier, noted that the traditional stone for a 60th anniversary was a diamond and asked Progressive Group members present to recognise the “diamonds” in those students present. He pointed out that the boycott had no declared leader, thus demonstrating the leadership potential in everyone.

Subsequently, the audience was involved in an interactive Story of Social Progress — Early 20th Century Bermuda. The timeline outlined the social evolution from 1919 to 1960, after the First World War up through the boycott and its impact on the right to vote.

Almost 30 Dellwood Middle School 1 students earned high marks for their wonderful presentation of an original work using spoken word. They were masterfully led by their drama teacher, Rajai Denbrook, who happens to be the great-nephew of the Reverend Kingsley Tweed — a key voice of the boycott.

Kimberley Jackson, of Mirrors, capped the lunchtime event by presenting Cire Bean with the Agent of Change Award. This twentysomething entrepreneur, who has created PayAKid, prototyped an effective tool to develop a business sense in youngsters, thus practically addressing underemployment. Through his effort, Cire exemplifies the type of civic engagement that made the boycott successful.

The Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, Bishop of Bermuda, owned the regressive legacy of the Anglican Church before he offered the closing prayer in a very suitable fashion.

Everyone joined in a rousing rendition of the civil rights anthem Lift Every Voice and Sing, led by Bermuda’s own Johnny Woolridge, before ending the celebration offering at least one person a hug.

Appreciation goes to all those rallying to this collaboration:

Various schools, notwithstanding that this is the busiest time on the school calendar. BHS, the Berkeley Institute, CedarBridge Academy; Dellwood Middle School and Warwick Academy assisted in various ways.

Organising groups Imagine Bermuda, Mirrors, Walk Together Bermuda, Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, Chewstick, Wellness Check-In, Bermuda Nurses Association, Health Promotions Office and the Bermuda Health Council.

Stakeholder groups, including the Corporation of Hamilton and Jackson School of Dance as venues, One Communications for the boycott quiz, Brown & Co and People’s Pharmacy.

Media support from The Royal Gazette and the Bermuda Industrial Union.

General support from the Bermuda Union of Teachers.

The boycott quiz is accessible on One Communications’ Facebook Page until July 2. Six prizes are on offer based on computerised marking and draw.

Glenn Fubler represents Imagine Bermuda

Face time: David Burt, the Premier, mingles with the guests of honour
Diamond in the rough: Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, spoke of the potential that every student has