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Tucker demands education reform

Failure to fix education in Bermuda would be a disservice to the trailblazers that came before, an honouree at a Black History Month celebration said.

Gil Tucker said: “If we don't fix education, I believe we will have disappointed our ancestors and failed our future generations.

“We will have missed the true spirit of Black History Month.”

Mr Tucker was speaking at an event to mark Black History Month at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club on Saturday night.

He was recognised along with fellow honouree Ruth Thomas.

Mr Tucker was the only black pupil in his class throughout his years at Saltus Grammar School.

The former chairman at professional services firm EY today serves as the board chairman at the private school in Pembroke.

He told event attendees that any changes to education must be made with a single focus in mind: “What is in the best interest of the students.”

Mr Tucker said: “We cannot leave this to the politicians. They can't do it.

“We have to help them and show them how important it is to us. We have to demand change.”

Mr Tucker said that while it was nice to relive the past, focus must be concentrated on the future.

He explained: “I don't think black history is just to recount and revisit the tragedies, triumphs of our ancestors.

“I think it's a way to celebrate the doors that those journeys have opened and to showcase the possibilities now afforded to generations today.”

Mr Tucker said that the work and achievements of black Bermudians that had come before had been difficult.

He added: “We cannot use ‘it's hard' as an excuse. “It was hard for Dr [E.F.] Gordon, it was hard for Gerald and Izola Harvey, and Vera Commissiong and the Progressive Group.

“It was hard — but they did not shy away from doing it.

“We just can't use hard as an excuse.”

Mr Tucker said the event also served as a reminder of the “obligation to keep moving forward”.

He added: “We can do things like name streets after our heroes, we can name buildings after our heroes, but I believe the best way to honour them is to prepare our generation with the tools necessary to fix the challenges that are rapidly coming.

“It's to prepare them so that they can soar to future heights.”

Mr Tucker said that the best way he knew how to prepare people for the future was through education.

He added: “We need to change education.”

Mr Tucker told attendees that he had served on a committee related to Bermuda's new airport that “caused an awful lot of passion in our community”.

He said: “If we can get that passionate over an airport, then we should be able to get passionate over the education of youth.”

Ms Thomas, a teacher and education administrator, said that many Bermudians were familiar with the achievements of Black American pioneers.

However, she added: “We know precious little about our very own people.”

Ms Thomas said that Bermuda's black history was “fully woven into our island's history”.

She added: “We have been major threads in the weaving of our island's cultural tapestry.

“We were the first to insert diversity into the culture.

“We brought some colour to this island.”

Ms Thomas helped create Bermuda's first government preschools and became the education officer responsible for early childhood education in 1972.

She was also the island's first cultural affairs officer and has worked for years on the preservation of Bermuda's history and traditions.

Ms Thomas urged people to “tell your stories”.

She said: “Nothing is unimportant. If you think you are too small to make a difference, just try sleeping in a room with a light out with a mosquito.

“Tell them the history, tell them the stories. Don't just be keepers of the stories, pass them on.”

Mr Thomas added: “Until the lions have their own stories, the stories about them will always glorify the hunters.”

Event honourees: Ruth Thomas and Gil Tucker (Photograph supplied).

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Published March 02, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated March 02, 2020 at 8:17 am)

Tucker demands education reform

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