The following Op-Ed was released by Bermuda Progressive Labour Party Chair Dawn Simmons…

On June 1, 2024, we marked the 97th birthday of Dame Lois Browne-Evans, DBE, JP, LLB.

We mark this day not just because she is a former Leader of The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party but because she is an enduring symbol of perseverance, heroism, and progressive change. Her leadership not only helped the PLP survive during its many years as the Opposition Party but positively transformed Bermuda for the Black community, the Portuguese community, our working class, and our poor.

Dame Lois emerged from a Bermuda marred by racial and gender inequity. Despite this, her determination drove her to become the first female barrister in Bermuda, setting the stage for her lifelong battle against injustice.

Known for her defense of those who had been marginalized and disenfranchised by systemic inequities, Dame Lois swiftly became known as one of the island’s most brilliant legal minds.

In 1963, Lois Browne-Evans entered the political arena, as a candidate for the PLP in Devonshire North, the area she would successfully represent for 40 years, even when political turmoil saw the PLP reduced to just one seat.

As the PLP leader from1968 – 1972 and 1976 – 1985, she championed women’s rights, improved working conditions and labour laws, the end of colonial rule in Bermuda, and an end to racial inequality. She also made history becoming the first woman to lead a political party in Bermuda as well as the first woman to serve as Opposition Leader in the British Commonwealth.

Stepping down as Leader in 1985, she remained a faithful PLP champion and diligent constituency MP until after over 30 years in Opposition the PLP finally defeated the United Bermuda Party in the 1998 General Election.

With the dawning of a new government, she became Bermuda’s first politically appointed Attorney General, breaking another barrier, and becoming the first woman in Bermuda to holdt his position. In the role of Minister of Legislative Affairs and Attorney General, Dame Lois Browne-Evans worked tirelessly to reform Bermuda’s legal systems into one with greater fairness and equity.

In 1999, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to politics and public life.

Dame Lois Browne-Evans’ legacy is not merely one of breaking barriers but of building bridges. She bridged the gap between races, genders, and social classes, advocating for a Bermuda where justice and equality were not just ideals but realities. Her life’s work inspired countless individuals to pursue their dreams, challenge injustices, and contribute to a more equitable society.

Dame Lois Browne-Evans passed away on May 29, 2007, but her legacy endures. She left an indelible mark on Bermuda’s legal and political landscape, and her contributions continue to inspire future generations. In her honour, the PLP Government established the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Court Building. This fitting tribute ensures that her spirit of justice and equality lives on in the very institutions she helped lead and transform.

In 2008 she was recognized as a Bermuda National Hero.

As we reflect on the life and legacy of Dame Lois Browne-Evans, we celebrate her extraordinary courage, intellect, vision, and compassion. Her journey from a young girl in Pembroke born in a segregated society to a National Hero of her island of birth is a testament to her indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to justice.

We pray that Dame Lois Browne-Evans will forever be remembered as a beacon of hope, a champion of equality, and a true pioneer in the fight for a more just and equitable Bermuda.