Legendary political activist Effie Walkes dies at 96

Legendary political activist Effie Walkes dies at 96
The late Ms Effie Walkes (seated at center) with Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis (left) and Deputy Leader Chester Cooper.

Walkes was the “only woman in the room” when Black Tuesday was planned

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Effie Walkes, legendary political activist, “guardian of the legacy of Black Tuesday” and Progressive Liberal Party stalwart, died this morning.

She was 96.

Walkes played an integral role in planning the events that marked the historical Black Tuesday in April 1965 that led to Majority Rule.

Tributes poured in recounting Walkes’ contributions and impact early this morning, with many remembering her as a “true patriot”.

In a statement on her passing, the PLP Leader Philip “Brave” Davis dubbed Walkes as “a freedom fighter and a significant personality in the local struggle for civil rights and social justice”.

“Blessed with long life and a courageous and fighting spirit, Ms. Walkes was an ardent supporter of the progressive movement and is distinguished with being the only female member of the planning committee of the events that marked the iconic Black Tuesday in April 1965,” the statement said,

“Ms. Walkes would later become the guardian of the legacy of Black Tuesday.

“In classic Bahamian oral tradition, Ms. Walkes would be called on to tell the story of Black Tuesday for many years to come as the PLP celebrated and reflected on the journey to Majority Rule and the modern political development of The Bahamas.”

Davis said her political activism made her a powerful and influential role model for other women in politics.

“Like so many of our freedom fighters, Effie Walkes was an unsung hero who sacrificed much in the struggle for social justice and equality. We have a solemn responsibility to memorialize her life and work and defend her noble legacy,” he continued.

“Ms. Walkes was a good and faithful servant who loved The Bahamas. She ran the good race and has gone on to receive her eternal and just reward.”

Davis further expressed his heartfelt condolences to the Walkes family on behalf of his wife, parliamentary colleagues, Stalwart Councillors, officers, members and the extended PLP family.

Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin also memorialized Walkes as a woman of honour, who played an integral role in the nation-building of The Bahamas.

In 2017, Walkes nominated Hanna-Martin for the leader of the PLP during its convention after the General Elections.

Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin (left) with Effie Walkes

“It is with a profound sense of loss and sadness that I have learned of the passing of the legendary, beautiful Effie Walkes,” Hanna-Martin said.

“Effie Walkes was brilliant, indefatigable, hugely articulate (oftentimes with brutal frankness) and fearless.

“She was part of that army of men and women who courageously confronted the powerful oligarchy and boldly resisted injustice and oppression in our country.”

Hanna-Martin recalled how Walkes was famously the only woman in the room when that historic high-level meeting was held which resulted in Black Tuesday.

She called it a turning point in the party’s political history and a forerunner to majority rule.

“It is reported that it was she who urged senior members to engage in radical action, something “dramatic”,” Hanna-Martin continued.

“The next day the mace went flying out of the House of Assembly window shattering on the ground below where hundreds were gathered in Rawson Square.”

Hanna-Martin spoke of highly her admiration for Walkes and the bond the developed over the years.

“I came to bond with her in her later years when she adopted me and brought me into the embrace of her wise counsel,” she said.

“She and I both made history when, from her wheelchair and at 93 years of age, she moved in 63rd National General Convention my nomination for Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party.

“I so admired her vivacious spirit. It is indeed a sight to see a 90 plus-year-old, confined to a wheelchair ready to get up and fight yet another righteous cause.

“It is because of people like Effie Walkes that I love the Progressive Liberal Party.”

Hanna-Martin added: “She was the best of the best. A true Patriot.”