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Championing the rights of black Bermudians

E.F. Gordon, the father of trade unionism

The progenitor of Bermuda’s labour movement, E.F. Gordon, was this year honoured by the Roman Catholic Church with a Peace and Social Justice Award.

The award was presented last Friday, some 61 years after his death on Wednesday, April 20, 1955, at a ceremony held at St Theresa’s Church Hall on Laffan Street in Hamilton. Dr Gordon was awarded for his sterling contributions as the father of trade unionism and for championing the rights of Bermudian workers and black Bermudians generally. A host of local dignitaries, including the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bermuda Wesley Spiewak and former BIU president Ottiwell Simmons, were in attendance along with family members. Dr Gordon’s daughter, the current Minister of Home Affairs, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, received the Peace and Social Justice Award and a certificate on behalf of the family.

Ms Gordon-Pamplin said her late father left an indelible impression upon her and her siblings. She recalled him as a rather compassionate man and read a poem she had written to express the love and affection she had for him.

Mr Simmons said how it was after hearing Dr Gordon speak that he was moved to pick up the mantle and participate in civil activism in the 1960s. This was a period which was marred with a plethora of social and labour unrest in Bermuda, and one which subsequently led to Mr Simmons becoming BIU president in the mid-1970s.

Dr Gordon is the sixth person to receive the Roman Catholic Church’s Peace and Social Justice Award. His name was added to a plaque listing those honoured before him: Barbara Ball in 2008 for her contribution towards labour and union rights; The Progressive Group in 2009 for their contribution in desegregating Bermuda through the Theatre Boycott; Dorothy Thompson for her contribution to the rights of quality education for girls; Monsignor Felipe Macedo in 2012 for advocating for the rights of Portuguese immigrant families in Bermuda and Gladys Misick Morrell in 2014 for her contribution as the leader of the Suffragette Movement in Bermuda.