Ruth Seaton James
Trailblazing civil servant
Born May 4, 1926

Ruth Seaton James was the first woman and the first black person to head a Government department in Bermuda.

That milestone in the Island’s long march towards racial and gender equality occurred on August 22, 1966 with her appointment as Registrar General and Parliamentary Registrar. It came seven years after the 1959 Theatre Boycott ended legalised segregation in Bermuda.

James had risen up through the ranks to head a department that had rejected her application for an entry-level position in 1950 because of her race. But one year later, she was offered a job, becoming the first black person to hold a clerical post within the Civil Service.

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First Bermuda Day celebrated
May 24, 1979

The May 24 holiday, which initially commemorated Queen Victoria's Birthday before becoming Empire Day and then Commonwealth Day, was first celebrated as Bermuda Day in 1979.

It was established as a vehicle for bringing black and white Bermudians together—something the Pitt Commission that investigated the causes of the 1977 riots said was sorely needed.

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