May 27, 2015
It was a beautiful summer day in 1986. At the time I was assistant secretary general of our party and a member of a delegation to Black Point, Exuma, headed by our then leader, the late Sir Kendal Isaacs. Also in that delegation were: L. Garth Wright, secretary general; Charles "Chuck" Virgil, chairman; Edwin "Vikey" Brown, vice chairman, Rudy Penn, our candidate for the 1987 general elections; John Smith and my father, Sir Arthur Foulkes.
John Smith, a successful Nassau-based road builder, had also unsuccessfully run for the FNM in the Rolleville constituency in 1982. Exuma had two seats then and Black Point and the other Cays were in the Rolleville constituency. In spite of the popularity of the then PLP MP, George Smith, John decided to run again for us in '87.
I remember we were driving along the main road in Black Point, in golf carts, of course, and a female voice called out to us. We stopped and went to her home. She said her husband was on the phone and he wanted to talk to Mr. Isaacs. The conversation lasted a long time.
Well, we were in the Browns' household and the man on the other end of the phone was Bertram Brown and the lady who stopped us was his wife. (Alvin and Maxine, you all were probably too young to remember this). He told us who the FNMs were on Black Point and who the PLPs were, and who he thought we could win over from the PLP to the FNM. You see, there were not too many FNM supporters on Black Point during those days. Now, it is overwhelmingly FNM.
Some of the leading FNM families were the Robinsons, the Browns, the Wrights, the Smiths and the Rolles. You had to be plenty man or plenty woman to dare to support the FNM under Pindling's PLP, especially in the Family Islands and more particularly in Exuma, where the PLP ruled with an iron fist. They mercilessly victimized FNMs. If you were FNM you need not apply for government contracts, jobs and other basic things.
Well, Bertram Brown was PLENTY man. The reason why Brown was not on Black Point and Isaacs had to speak to him on the phone, was because the PLP had transferred him from Exuma to Long Island as a punishment for supporting the FNM. They wanted him out of Black Point and out of Exuma. The fact that he had a family to look after and children to take care of was of no concern to the heartless PLP government of the day.
Bertram Brown was a Batelco operator and the PLP moved him from island to island without any regard for his rights as a Bahamian citizen and as a child of God. Every Island Bertram went to he started preaching the FNM gospel, and it would not be long before the PLP MP and or generals on that Island started to complain about him. There were three things Bertram loved: his family, Black Point and the FNM.
When our leaders visited Black Point, including Tommy Turnquest, Hubert Ingraham and our current leader Dr. Hubert Minnis, they would not and could not leave Black Point until they paid their respects to Bertram Brown, who had the singular honor on Black Point of being recognized by his induction into the party's prestigious group of Meritorious Council Members (MCM).
Brown was a community leader who always tried his best to promote and advance Black Point. He called me when I was the Cabinet minister with regattas and homecomings in my portfolio, and asked me if I could increase the funding for the Black Point homecoming, and I did. The following year he called again for a further increase and I told him the only way he could get an increase was to add a regatta (C Class) feature to the homecoming. He and the committee did just that.
We were very pleased that he was able to spend his retirement years in Black Point. I will miss sitting down with him under the stand, right opposite his house, where he plaited straw and gave lectures on politics and the history of Black Point and Exuma. We are a very fortunate organization to have and to have had people like John Smith and Bertram Brown. They and their families caught holy hell for our party and gave much of their personal resources and time to make the FNM what it is today.
To Bertram's family, I say thank you very much for the sacrifices you all made and continue to make for our great party and our beloved country. We are very pleased that some of his children are active members of the FNM, especially his son Alvin, who is one of our leaders in the Golden Gates constituency.
- Dion A. Foulkes
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