Among the Racism Perry O. Johnson -Hazzard Dill- Phyllis Edness

Many times we have individuals that have faced obstacles throughout life that we hear very little about. Perry Oliver Johnson, Hazzard Florentus Dill and Phyllis Edness were three of those persons. Perry grew up in St. Georges attended East end Primary School and later attend school in Canada. He also did a stint in the Bermuda Militia Artillery which at the time was segregated.  In spite of that it was there he received his first form of training in track. In 1948 Perry had the opportunity to go with a group of people who were travelling overseas to participate with an Olympics team. This team was known for three historical first. The first racially mixed team, the first to include men and women and Bermuda’s first entry into the track and field arena. Many black persons who were interested in track and field were secretly trained by Alma ‘Champ’ Hunt who felt that black athletes should be included in the team. The fact that  an all white team had been sent to Berlin in 1936 did not escape Mr. Hunt. When told that if these persons intended to travel with the all white team they would have to raise their own funds Alma’ realized that the only way this could become a reality was through much hard work and determination and the biggest obstacle of all to raise  funding for these athletes. It was difficult to know that there were persons that could compete and promote Bermuda but would be discriminated against and for financial reasons. Mr. Hunt had a brain storm he approached some of his close friends David Tucker and Hilton Hill upstanding gentlemen in society and when  they learned of the plight of these young people, they quickly formed the Bermuda Amateur Sports Association. They approached other black sports clubs and organizations  for financial aid and were successful in their bid. The three athletes went off to London and participated at Wembley Stadium with 9300 people watching. Champ Hunt however was never recognized as the team coach.  The trio was successful and won their trial events and made their country proud. Bermuda Track and field Association (founded in 1971) became the governing body in 1974. Mr. Johnson left Bermuda in 1956 to work in the United Nations and later for Eastern Airlines. He returned home in 1972 began a career with the Department of Immigration and returned in 1988. He was still interest in the sport of Track and worked briefly as a massage practitioner, he felt this would help future local Olympians. When we look to the future of upcoming persons interested in the field of Track just how much has changed? Perry’s vision was to see a National Stadium that would be used to improve runners of the future and good competition must take place in order to produce world-class athletes.  Alma Champ Hunt shared that vision. Yet one will ask just how much has things changed where do we go from here? See more on Perry at the Bermudian Heritage Museum.

Photo  Hazzard Dill Bermuda’s first Olympian winner