The Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports the Hon. Lovitta Foggo JP, MP expressed her “deep sadness” at the loss of Bermudian activist Dr. Eva Hodgson.
“Dr. Hodgson was a person who consistently, unabashedly and unashamedly told the truth about race and racism in Bermuda,” Minister Foggo said. “She did this at a time when the stakes of such bravery were incredibly high, when people were personally punished for voicing that kind of truth. Even in more recent times, Dr. Hodgson continued to warn against the dangers of complacency when it came to race relations, and saw this work as being far from complete. I had the pleasure of a number of discussions with Dr Hodgson on racial issues in Bermuda and appreciated her counsel, insightfulness and expertise in this area. I will always be thankful for those opportunities. I was very sad to hear the news of her passing.”
The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs honoured Dr. Hodgson in 2018 as the focus for their annual Dr. Kenneth E. Robinson/Cyril Outerbridge Packwood Memorial Lecture. The event, which took the format of a conversation between Dr. Hodgson and journalist Meredith Ebbin, was standing-room-only as many Bermudians took the opportunity to get a more personal glimpse of an icon best known for her consistently strong stance against racism.
The Department also worked with Milton Raposo at Method Media to produce a short 11-minute tribute video to Dr. Hodgson, which premiered at the event and is also available at the sites listed above.
Dr. Hodgson was a member of a family that put down roots in Crawl, Hamilton Parish more than two centuries ago. Her forebears include farmers, property owners, educators, entrepreneurs, parliamentarians and activists. Crawl Gospel Hall, a Brethren church which the Hodgson family helped to establish during the 19th century, was a major influence and shaped Dr. Hodgson’s strong religious convictions.
The second eldest of six children, Dr. Hodgson completed her primary education at Temperance Hall. She attended The Berkeley Institute, and received a Government scholarship to attend Queen’s University in Ontario, where she obtained her undergraduate degree. She earned a Diploma in Education at London University, to which she returned some years later and obtained an honours degree in geography, the subject that she taught at Berkeley. The time she spent in London heightened her awareness of racial injustice in Bermuda. Upon returning to Bermuda in 1959, she began writing letters to the editor of the Bermuda Recorder.
In 1965, while teaching at Berkeley, she became the first president of the Amalgamated Bermuda Union of Teachers (BUT). The BUT sponsored her seminal book Second Class Citizens, First Class Men, which focused on the social and political changes that occurred in Bermuda between 1953 and 1963. She was a contributor to Is Massa Day Dead?—Black Moods in the Caribbean, published in 1974; her article was entitled “Bermuda and the Search for Blackness”. Her other writings include A Storm in a Teacup—The 1959 Bermuda Theatre Boycott and Its Aftermath, published in 1989, and The Experience of Racism in Bermuda and in its Wider Context published in 2008.
In 1967, she moved to New York to study at Columbia University. She received two Masters degrees at Columbia, before embarking on studies for a Ph.D. in African history and black American history, which she obtained in 1980. She was appointed chairperson of the History Department at Essex County College in 1978; and while serving in that position, she was awarded a fellowship grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to study human rights at Columbia’s Center for the Study of Human Rights.
Upon her return to Bermuda, she served as a guidance counsellor at Robert Crawford School. In 1983, she was appointed coordinator of Oral History and Cultural Preservation in Education in the Ministry of Education, a post she held until 1990. As a result of her work with the BUT, she won the Russell Award for contributing to world peace from the World Confederation of the Organization of the Teaching Profession. She was also awarded a grant from Columbia to conduct field research in Liberia, and during that time visited several other West African countries.
In 1992, Dr. Hodgson co-founded the National Association of Reconciliation, which remained an entity for 15 years. She has credited it with helping to put the issue of race on the national agenda. Dr. Hodgson has won recognition for her contributions. She received the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour, and in 2011, an OBE. She was an honorary member of Citizens Uprooting Racism (CURB) and attended Harrington Sound Gospel Hall.