Earl Cameron, CBE
Pioneering actor
Born August 8, 1917

Bermuda-born actor Earl Cameron made his name in film as Britain’s first black star. During a career spanning more than 60 years, he appeared in countless films, winning plaudits both for his acting and his positive portrayals of black characters.

His breakout role was in the 1951 film Pool of London. Roles in films such as Simba, Guns at BatashiSafariThunderball and Sapphire would follow. He worked in radio and television in the UK, and also appeared in US films.

He took a break from acting for 15 years when he moved to the Solomon Islands, but resumed his career upon returning to the UK. He enjoyed film roles (The QueenThe Interpreter and Inception) into his 90s.

He was showered with awards in the UK and was also recognised in Bermuda.  In 2012, City Hall Theatre was renamed Earl Cameron Theatre and he was honoured by the Bermuda government on his 100th birthday.

His death at age 102 led to a slew of tributes. His obituary ran in numerous publications, both in the UK and the US, an indication of his trailblazing legacy.



Slavery is abolished
August 1, 1834

Freedom came to nearly 4,000 enslaved people in Bermuda on August 1, 1834. It occurred a year after the British Parliament passed the Abolition of Slavery Act, which freed slaves in all British territories, mostly in the Caribbean, but also in the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa and Mauritius.

Slaveholders received financial compensation for the loss of their slaves from a £20 million fund established by the British Government, but there was no similar payout to the enslaved. Today, this inequity has led to calls by activists and political leaders in the Caribbean and beyond for reparations. 

In Bermuda, laws aimed at diluting blacks’ political power were passed in the aftermath of Emancipation. The property qualification for voters was increased from £30 to £60—and remained in effect until 1963. 

Still, Emancipation was cause for celebration. While many whites expressed fears that blacks would riot, Emancipation Day was a day of reflection and quiet celebration. Churches were filled, from Somerset to St. George’s, including Cobb’s Hill Church in Warwick, which was built by the enslaved. More than 400 worshippers packed St. John’s Church in Pembroke. 

On Emancipation Day, black Bermudians packed churches including Cobbs Hill Methodist Church in Warwick which was built by enslaved people. 

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