First black Saltus student ‘legendary’
Students at Saltus received valuable history lessons as the school's first black student spoke at the annual Founder's Day ceremony yesterday.
Speaking in St John's Anglican Church, Gil Tucker, also the first black Saltus head boy and current chairman of the Board of Trustees, discussed his experience living in a segregated Bermuda.
Introducing Mr Tucker to the audience was Jon Beard, deputy head and director of advancement at Saltus.
He said: “I would like you to imagine how you would feel if you were the only person of your race at school. That was the situation Gil Tucker found himself in.
“This is a remarkable story. I am hopeful that in today's world we don't think about the colour of our own skin, but Mr Tucker's story was at a different time and indeed makes this story legendary at Saltus.”
At 12 years old, Mr Tucker recalled his father waking him up for the first day of school.
“It was September in 1966 and my father came to me and said it's time to get ready to go to school and like every schoolboy that age, that's the last thing I wanted to do. School wasn't like it is today.
“The first significant difference was that there were no girls, all boys. BHS was our sister school and because the girls and boys were treated differently in education they didn't have classes, they did home economics and they came over to Saltus. We had joint concerts together — they were our sister school.”
He also addressed corporal punishment in schools, the fact that he was unable to visit his friends outside of school because of the racial divide, changes made to the school property, the strict dress code as well as his experiences as head boy. After Saltus, Mr Tucker went on to receive a bachelors of science in accounting and marketing at Boston College and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Bermuda, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the District of Columbia State Board of Accountancy.
He recently retired from Ernst and Young after 35 years at the firm and 19 years as partner. From 2007 he was the managing partner. He is also heavily involved in the local community and sits on various boards and government advisory boards.
The trustees of Saltus have now honoured Mr Tucker's legacy by introducing the Gil Tucker Scholarship. Details will be available in the new school year.
Also recognised as this year's alumni award winner was swimmer Roy-Allen Burch for his achievements as a Bermuda Olympian. Mr Beard added: “We are proud to recognise Roy for his incredible fight to achieve his goal. He does indeed personify perseverance and we are proud to recognise him as our alum of the year.”