Conceived at the gravesite of Miss Rosa Butterfield in 1919, the Bermuda Union of Teachers has forged a story to be celebrated, commemorated, and awed by.
As the story goes: having grown utterly distraught by watching several of their colleagues in the teaching profession pass before their time [Miss Butterfield was just 43 years old], four visionaries made a vow to fight for a better way forward for teachers in the local black community.
Reverend Rufus Stovell, Miss Adele Tucker, Miss Edith Crawford and Miss Matilda Crawford stood at Miss Butterfield’s gravesite in St. John’s Church graveyard one hundred years ago and conspired to change the fabric of Education in Bermuda; indeed, to make teaching a noble, sought after and safe profession in the years that would follow.
First members of the Bermuda Union of Teachers in February 1919: E. Scott Tucker, Miss Matilda “Mattie” Crawford, Mrs. Hetty Tucker Morrell, Mrs. Mildred Outerbridge Paynter, Miss Lauretta Smith, Miss Ida Hinson, Mr. Ossie Francis, Miss Edith Crawford, Rev. R. H. Tobitt and Miss Adele Tucker
The struggle was not an easy one, and teaching is still a high stress profession, but there’s no doubt that the stance taken by the founders when they held their first official meeting on Saturday, February 1, 1919 has exponentially improved the life expectancy of a professional teacher in Bermuda.
February 1, 1919 is the date that history has proclaimed the birthdate of the Bermuda Union of Teachers proper [BUT], making this very week the final week of the Union’s first century of existence. A more detailed account of the Union’s history can be found here.
Through the years, the BUT has always done what was best for its members, ensuring that the wider community would be provided strong, settled, and happy teachers. Disruptions have been necessary, but without the BUT, Bermuda as a whole would not be as stable as she is. The BUT has a glorious history from the view of an educator in Bermuda; full of significant gains, hard fought victories, and vital, if unheralded, movements.
Now it’s time to celebrate the Union. Bermuda’s first, most enduring and integral trade union, the BUT is turning 100, and boy are we going to celebrate! Friday, February 1, 2019 has been designated a Union Day by the government, and will feature a very meaningful schedule of events to commemorate this auspicious occasion.
While this is a Union milestone, the BUT wants the general public to celebrate this occasion as well; please support where you can as a strong BUT is an indispensable element of a strong Bermuda.
Expect the City of Hamilton to be overrun with smiling teachers on Friday, most likely adorned with the familiar burgundy and grey union colors the BUT has made so famous recently. The 900 plus members of the BUT will invade Hamilton at around 10.00am on Friday morning, after gathering at the St. John’s Church yard from 8.00am that morning. Of course, the Churchyard is the very place where the BUT was conceived, so the significance of that gathering place is clearly gargantuan.
Once the proclamations on the steps of City Hall are entered into the annals of Bermuda history, the celebration will continue in Victoria Park, and will feature the highly anticipated draw for the BUT Centenary raffle at 1.00pm.
The public is more than welcome to join the members to show their support and solidarity with our teachers and the BUT throughout the day. This is a time to acknowledge our Educators, past and present, and show them that we know their value, even though there’s no price that could ever define that value.
The BUT will then go uptown with The Centenary Gala in the elegant Poinciana Ballroom at the Fairmont Southampton. This exquisite event will unfold on Saturday, February 2, 2019, and will give our educators a chance to be a different kind of fabulous for one majestic night. Of course, we all know how fabulous our teachers have to be each and every day; but this will be a different kind of fabulous.
The Gala will honor the past presidents of the BUT who have carried the torch kindled by the founders since 1919. The public are welcomed once again, and can call the BUT office at 292-6515 with enquiries about ticket and table availability. You can also book your table direct by going here.
A weekend a century in the making! This is a celebration that many have fought to make a reality; a celebration sparked by death and depression; a celebration wrought through hardship; a celebration kindled with passion; and a celebration that is well earned, well imagined and well deserved!
[Written by Vejay Steede]