Effie Walkes dies at 96

Political activist and suffragette Effie Walkes died yesterday.

She was 96.

In a statement, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis said Walkes was 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,” Davis 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.

“Ms. Walkes’ 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.”

Former Prime Minister Perry Christie said Walkes grounded him. 

“She was, in my years in leadership of the PLP, a personal, political and ideological guardian,” he said.

“I am equally proud of her singular legacy in the many social enfranchisement campaigns of the PLP – against racial and economic injustice; and in particular, her instrumental hand for women’s suffrage, majority rule and, throughout her life, the empowerment of ordinary Bahamians.

“It is well known that Effie was the only female member of the planning committee of events that marked Black Tuesday. It was her superb judgment about human and institutional dynamics that settled the PLP leadership’s confidence in her. Her unique impulse was an understanding of how to amplify an idea, a moment, a person, a movement. She could be a verbal sword. But I cherish her unchanging reference to the Gospel of St. Matthew, in always reminding me that what we do for the least of us is our calling in political life.

“Effie kept me grounded. There is no price that one can put to her devotion once she had decided upon you. I recall that Sir Lynden’s father had asked Effie to protect and promote the then young Pindling. It was with a gracious spirit and humility that I received Effie’s commitment to protect and promote me at Sir Lynden’s and my mother’s asking. She never left my side in holding fast to the meaning of the PLP and our cause for the people and future generations of this country.”

Christie added, “Some lives are the stuff of quiet books. Effie’s long 96 years with us – her incredible physical presence and energy – is the stuff of theater.

“I and my family; the PLP; and this country, owe Effie Walkes a debt of gratitude.”

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