Community & Sport

Black History Month – Alfred Brownlow “A.B.” Place

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December 11, 1893-November 11, 1986

A platform for the black voice

Alfred Brownlow “A.B.” Place was the founding publisher of the Bermuda Recorder and its driving force for 45 years. He established the newspaper “in the interest of the coloured people of Bermuda.” Naysayers predicted the newspaper would fold within six months, but it survived for half a century and had a lasting impact.

Place was the youngest of 12 children. He left school at age 13 and became an apprentice printer at the Bermuda Colonist–  which would merge with The Royal Gazette in 1921.

Place eventually decided that it was time that black Bermudians had a newspaper of their own. He received backing tangible backing, raising £750 for the idea. Place purchased a printing press. Working with an editor and a typesetter, and with himself in the role of manager, printer and ad man—he set up operations in a one-room building on Angle Street.

The first issue, “a four-page sheet”, hit the streets on July 18, 1925. By the time of its 10th anniversary, The Recorderhad become a 12-page broadsheet.

Place worked seven days a week, and at its highest point, presided over a staff of eight. Still, being a black publisher in segregated Bermuda was a challenge because powerful whites who dominated the government and business were reluctant to support Place.

Despite the obstacles, Place was able to provide for his family. The Places lived for many years at Ewing Street, Hamilton, within walking distance of The Recorder. They later moved to Cavendish Heights, becoming the first black family to own a house in the area.

Despite the demands of publishing, Place had a full life outside of work. He played cricket and golf and was a founding member of Ocean View Golf Club. He had a dignified bearing and was known for his elegant attire.

In 1969, Place was honoured by the Bermuda Business and Professional Women’s Club and in 1974, was a recipient of the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour.

A.B. died on November 11, 1986, a month before his 93th birthday. His legacy survives at Government’s Department of Communication and Information A. B. Place Media Room, which Premier Ewart Brown established in 2008 as a venue for Government press conferences. In 2013, he was honoured by the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Emancipation Committee.

Most issues from July 1933 to July 1975 are available on microfilm at the Bermuda National Library and can be viewed digitally on the Bermuda National Library website, www.bnl.bm.

Source: bermudabiographies.com

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