The Clark Report (1978)

Introduction

In October 1977 the Bermuda Government commissioned Clark, Phipps, Clark & Harris, Inc. (CPC&H) to work with the appropriate government officials and civic leaders to assist Bermuda “to achieve a more meaningful integration of the races and more equitable distribution of the wealth of the community.” In this Letter of Agreement stating the specifics of this project, it was agreed that CPC&H staff would present a preliminary report on or about January 15, 1978 which would focus on “emerging issues, findings , problem areas and recommendations for amelioration and further activities.”

The decision of the Bermuda Government to authorize and embark on this project at that time must be considered an example of wise and farsighted government pl anning.  The events of early December made this decision seem almost weirdly prophetic. The outbreaks and social turbulence and sustained tensions which were triggered by the hangings of Burrows and Tacklyn removed the appearance of total tranquility and revealed an underlying reality of racial resentments and latent seething unrest which are as much a part of the reality of Bermuda as are its idyllic climate and its dependence upon tourism . The recent disturbances demonstrate the fact that Bermuda, in spite of its many historical, social and economic assets, was not able to remain aloof or isolated from the dynamic currents of racial, political and economic changes and turmoil which have afflicted the rest of the world during the past two or three decades.  A decisive percentage of black Bermudians have torn away the mask of passivity and acceptance of the past, and are now expressing an assertive demand for change. As a distinguished white member of the present Bermuda Cabinet said in an interview two weeks after the disturbances : “Probably the key problem which you and your staff will face in fulfilling your commitment to the people and the Bermuda Government is that of helping us to educate the white people in Bermuda to understand that the days of unquestioned white supremacy have passed – not only in Africa, but also in Bermuda.”

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