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Celebrating an educational milestone

Theodore S Francis II

This columnist encountered many interesting personalities who ventured home from near and far for the Cup Match/Emancipation Day celebrations.

We have no hesitation declaring up front that the most esteemed was the ambitious, hard working Theodore S Francis II.

In May, he became Dr Francis, having completed his doctoral studies in history at the University of Chicago.

He successfully defended his dissertation, “Fantasy Island: Race, Colonial Politics and the Desegregation of Tourism in the British Colony of Bermuda, 1881-1961”.

After submitting the required edits on the dissertation, Dr Francis’s work was accepted by the university’s history department and he was conferred with both his master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees in Caribbean Atlantic World History. The official presentation takes place at the University of Chicago’s 524th convocation this month.

Dr Francis was accompanied by his charming California-born wife, Jacqueline.

Dr Francis is the son of Stan Francis and Yvonne Smith.

He was educated at Saltus and Warwick Academy and originally trained as an electrical fitter at Belco for several years before transitioning into historical research and education.

Dr Francis completed his undergraduate degree in history at Morehouse College.

His matriculation through Morehouse was supported in part by the Star Award scholarship and then, after teaching at Clearwater Middle School for approximately a year, he resumed his studies at the University of Chicago.

His education at Chicago was financed in part by scholarships from the OIL Group as well as the Bermuda Historical Society.

Dr Francis’s dissertation examined the ways that tourism influenced the lives of black Bermudians from the origins of the tourist industry in the late 19th century, until the onset of desegregation in the 1960s.

It argues that the segregated tourist industry exploited black Islanders in various ways. In response, blacks resisted certain aspects of the industry, while also utilising tourism in ways that were advantageous for their own economic, social and political interests. A significant portion of his research involved the origins and maintenance of black Bermudian guesthouses and hotels after Second World War.

Therefore, Dr Francis conducted several interviews with older black Bermudians who were familiar with the histories of properties such as Sunset Lodge, Archlyn Villa, Ripleigh, Leopards Plaza, The Imperial Hotel and similar black-owned establishments.

In addition, his research engaged the important economic and political role of black tourism as well as the influence of organisations such as the Bermuda Resort Association on desegregation.

Dr Francis has an extensive teaching resumé, having taught European colonisation at the University of Chicago and world history and globalisation and Caribbean studies at St Edwards University.

Dr Francis is an assistant professor of history at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin Texas.

His courses at Huston-Tillotson University include: United States history, introduction to African-American studies as well as the African-American experience.

His primary research and writing interests include: historical and contemporary issues of tourism, particularly black tourism; the African Diaspora in the Caribbean and Americas; anti-colonial movements in the Caribbean; Atlantic world slavery, resistance and the development of post-emancipation societies.

Dr Francis was the speaker for the tenth annual Dr Kenneth E Robinson-Cyril Outerbridge Packwood Memorial Lecture at the Bermuda College on July 23.

His talk was entitled, “Dark and Stormy: Boycotts, Black Tourism and Desegregation in Bermuda”. Dr Francis married the former Jacqueline Smith of California in 2009 and the couple reside and work in Austin, Texas.

Dr Francis and his family would like to express their sincere thanks to everyone in the community who has assisted him along the way to achieving this educational milestone.