The departure of Dr. Brown from the political stage will undoubtedly leave a void in the lives of many Bermudians, and indeed those CARICOM leaders with whom he has served since being elected leader of the PLP in October, 2007. 

Although many did not take him at his word when he pledged to the PLP delegates that he would serve only one term, today, Wednesday, October 27, 2010 will be Dr. Brown’s last full day as Premier of Bermuda and as an MP.

My admiration for Dr. Brown is no secret and I make no apologies. Contrary to popular belief, I do not always agree with Dr. Brown and some of the decisions he has made. I do not always agree with my sons and some of the decisions that they have made; however, those who know me well know that my love and admiration for my sons is unwavering.  Myself and many other admirers realize that Dr. Brown, like every man and woman, is not without fault. But as a political figure in Bermuda, and indeed the Diaspora, there are few who compare. 

Because of my involvement with the PLP over the past 40 years or so, I have had interacted with several Caribbean leaders including Sir Lyndon Pindling, P.J. Patterson, Baldwin Spencer and most recently, Dr. Denzel Douglas. And I have had personal interactions with all of Bermuda’s political leaders from both sides of the aisle. Literally and figuratively, Dr. Brown stands heads and shoulders above them all. 

 After spending many years abroad being educated in Jamaica and America and practicing medicine, Dr. Brown returned to the country of his birth in 1993, although prior to that time he commuted between California and Bermuda. In fact, Dr. Brown founded The Bermuda Times and Bermuda Health Care Services while still living in California and ran both businesses from abroad.

Pioneering

Love or hate him, we can all agree that few politicians have displayed the energy of Dr. Brown. As the Minister of Tourism and Transport, he was innovative and pioneering. None of us should forget the grumblings of opposition when Dr. Brown first talked about bringing in fast ferries. We now know they are here to stay and we all enjoy the ride to Dockyard or St. George’s.

Although there are still many in the community who do not believe that ‘Big Conversation’ is necessary, those of us who have suffered as a result of racism know that it was important to Bermuda, even if few whites participated. I don’t think Dr. Brown expected a majority of whites to admit racism is alive and well on the ‘isles of rest’.  Just as only a brave man would dare to give asylum to four stateless and homeless men who dared to challenge China’s occupation of their country. 

Bermuda saw the mettle of the man when Dr. Brown stood in front of the Sally Bassett statue and listened as Janice Battersbee, on behalf of a group of mainly white men and women who called themselves ‘Bermudians’ hurled invectives and insults at the Premier.  Few people have the self-control that Dr. Brown exercised that day, especially knowing that Mrs. Battersbee was many years his junior and that she was the daughter of an ardent trade unionist.

Many have described Dr. Brown as arrogant, but those of us who grew up with him in Flatts know that to be as far from the truth as one could get.  Ewart Brown never forgot his roots and his childhood friends have remained his friends in adulthood. We loved him as boy for his mischievous ways, his wit and his intellect, and we loved him as the Premier for the same reason.

I am certain that tomorrow evening’s assembly of PLP delegates will be bittersweet both for Dr. Brown and for us, the party members. I expect there will be tears of joy from Dr. Brown’s detractors within the party and tears of sorrow from those of us who will be saddened by his departure.  But life will go on and Dr. Brown’s legacy will be with us always.