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From athlete at the Commonwealth Games to campus activist to qualified doctor

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The son and nephew of two well-known United Bermuda Party MPs, a political career was probably on the cards for Ewart Brown from the beginning — just not with the same party as his elder relatives.The Royal Gazette in 1993.

Helene Brown and Gloria McPhee were the first sister team in the House of Assembly — but, according to Dr. Brown, their experiences with the UBP left them with bitter tastes in their mouths.

Mrs. Brown, Dr. Brown's mother, a backbencher from 1972 to 1976, was instrumental in forming the UBP black caucus in an effort to reach out into the community to tackle pressing social issues.

The group called for an end to segregated schooling and more integrated activities for young children, and said the Immigration Department wasn't taking a tough enough line on foreign workers.

But such suggestions were said to have contributed to her later downfall within the party.

Her attempts to run as a candidate in Smith's South in 1980 sparked a legal row, with party establishment saying they had already selected two candidates for that seat.

Mrs. Brown was ultimately allowed to challenge, but was heavily defeated by party colleagues Jim Woolridge and Tony Correia.

In a speech at the Leopard's Club, Mrs. Brown said the odds had been stacked against her because of the way the UBP had handled the issue.

She said leading blacks in the UBP had campaigned against her, and she called for the party to rid itself of whites who were preventing blacks from making progress.

"This sort of thing happens only because there are still too many white people who have not accepted the contributions made through the years by blacks, and too many white people are still determined to prevent blacks from taking their rightful place in the community," she said.

Ewart Brown was born in Bermuda in 1947, growing up in Flatts and being sent to the Technical Institute in Prospect, which did little to help his ambitions to be a doctor.

He moved to Jamaica in 1960, which he has said offered him a blend of academic studies and athletic opportunities, and he represented Bermuda in the 400 metres at the Commonwealth Games there.

He then attended Howard University in Washington, DC, qualifying as a doctor in 1971 and making a name for himself as a student activist; he has described this period as the time he got hooked on politics.

The American civil rights movement was coming into its own, with figures such as Martin Luther King, Dick Gregory and Stokely Carmichael often speaking at Howard's campus.

"It was very exciting as a young black man aged 18 to be there in the midst of all that," Dr. Brown told

According to a Playboy article titled 'Student Revolt' in 1969, Dr. Brown led a coalition of campus political organisations in a successful five-day takeover of the school's administration building in a protest against disciplinary procedures. It was the first all-black seizure of a college administration building in the country.

He also made the headlines back in Bermuda when he reportedly accused a King Edward VII Memorial Hospital administrator of racism in 1971.

Three years later, he became the first qualified doctor in 50 years to be turned down for a Bermuda Medical Association licence to practise after failing the BMA exam.

At that time, he claimed the BMA gave him a failing grade because of the fear he generated in the established medical community by being outspoken.

He eventually received his BMA licence to practise in 1988, and set up Bermuda Healthcare Services in 1990, returning to the Island permanently around 1992.

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Published October 20, 2010 at 12:00 am (Updated December 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm)

From athlete at the Commonwealth Games to campus activist to qualified doctor

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