Majority Rule In The Bahamas
59 Novembers ago three men came together and form the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). They were Henry Milton Taylor, William. W. Cartwright, Cyril St. John Stevenson. They began meeting regularly discussing the pros and cons. They invited 7 men to join them but only 6 accepted the invitation. Henry Taylor was the Chairman, William was the treasurer and Cyril became the secretary. The party progressed in Nassau and decided to include the outer islands. When sir. Lynden Piddling came home from law school he joined the PLP party and that was the beginning of the road to majority rule.
Sir Lynden Pindling, Randol Fawkes, Auther Hanna, Sir. Milo Butler Sr, Clarence Bain, Samuel Isaacs, and many other women and men planned and strategized to free there people from colonize. At that time racial segregation was a way of life in The Bahamas. The ‘blacks’ were referred to as coloured people. They were schools were coloured children were not allowed to enter. They were places like hotels, shops, and restaurants were colour people were not allowed to dine. There were also churches where coloured people were not allowed to sit in the same pews as the whites.
In January 1954 the PLP held its first public meeting. In 1956 there was the first election. The Bay Street Boys started to get scared that they were going to lose so they called the U. S. A policemen saying a Negro colonist party was trying to take over The Bahamas. A group of woman led by Jorgina Symonette and others fundraised to raise funds for the PLP. The PLP did not have enough funds to have fish fries, grocery baskets, free liquor and parties to try and bribe the people like the Bay Street Boys did. The PLP would pass around hats at meetings to try to raise funds but it was not enough.
The Bay Street Boys gave out free money to the people for their votes. They would tear the money in half and give half before the election and the other after if they voted freely. On election eve the white candidate for Grand Bahama from the UBP paid the black candidate 1000 pounds to drop out. In the 1965 election 6 PLP candidates were elected. They were Sir. Lynden Pindling, Randol Fawkes, Samuel Isaacs, Sir. Milo Butler, Cyril Stevenson and Clarence Bain; they were called the magnificent six. In 1958 a dispute broke out over the carrying of visitors from the new Nassau airport at Windsor field.
Tour companies had been formed by the Bay Street Boys edging out the Taxi drivers. On January 12 1958 there was a strike that broke that was very dramatic and successful. On November 1st 1957 the taxi cab union under the leadership of Sir, Clifford Darling and others blocked all traffic to and from Nassau’s international airport for hours while the commissioner officers looked on helplessly. Struggle To achieve Majority Rule On January 13 1958, every hotel and business was closed down completely. The PLP led a boycott along Bay Street. The workers went on strike and cried out “Not a sweat until our demands are met”.
On January 19, 1959 Doris Johnson had asked to address the House of Assembly and lead a group of woman to declare to vote. They were denied sir Stafford Sands by him saying “over his dead body’. On July 31 1961 the grant of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement was passed and women were able to vote. The PLP government began the dynamic thrust for educational change in The Bahamas by making secondary education available to all Bahamians in 1967. This was key to removing the scales of ignorance from eyes of a people through a massive commitment to educate.
The late Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield, one of the members of the first majority rule Cabinet, was given the task to improve and Bahamianize the educational system. Huge capital expenditures were made to multiply and upgrade primary and secondary schools, to institute technical education and train new Bahamian teachers. The government’s White Paper on Education provided for the implementation of broad parameter involving teachers, parents and students, and was supportive of the high ideals with the government advocated – self-help, equality, the dignity of labour and service responsibility and co-operation.
The establishment of the PLP government also brought about a new outlook on economic development. The objective was directed towards opening up greater economic and social opportunities for the citizens of The Bahamas and for greater flexibility of the economy. One of the major battles to achieve this objective was making Freeport Grand Bahama, safe and desirable for all Bahamians. During the 1970s, the PLP government launched the “Social Revolution,” which included the introduction of the National Insurance Scheme, a system of social security, which is continuing with a massive low cost housing programme.
The PLP government also moved to improve the delivery of health care by adding an extension to the Princess Margaret Hospital, upgrading and building new polyclinics throughout New Providence and the Family Islands. On April 27th 1965 was Black Tuesday. A crowd of PLP supporters lead by the PLP chairman marched from Windsor Park to Bay Street and assembled in the front of the House of Assembly. Inside the House the PLP members lead by Pindling strongly opposed the revision of the bounties draft order. He advocated a national registration of voters.
Outside the House of Assembly the PLP supporters cried out “Amend, Amend “, “Shame and Scandal in The House”. Sir Lynden, then Leader of the Opposition, during the heated debate over the issue of boundaries but in a carefully orchestrated move got up and threw the Mace, the Speaker’s symbol of authority, out of the window of the House of Assembly. He declared “The authority of this Island belongs to the people “and threw the mace out of the window. “Yes, people outside and mace belongs outside to. ” He shouted. After that Sir Milo Butler got up and threw the two hour glass that were used to time to speakers out of the window.
The UPB watched surprisingly. Sir Lynden Pindling then led the crowd singing the song “We Shall Overcome”. ACHIEVEING Majority Rule An election was then called on January 10th, 1967. This was because in the Bible in the book of Exodus the Lord said he will free the children of Egypt on the tenth day of the first month. January 10th, 1967 was neither an end nor even a beginning. Instead, it was an important milestone in a journey that was begun centuries ago when some anonymous slave struck a blow for freedom for the first time. We pause to pay homage to the personalities and players in this epic struggle.
In a hard fought and competitive election in 1967, the PLP delivered the following 18 members to a 38-member House of Assembly. They were: Lynden Pindling, Preston Albury, Clarence Bain, Milo Butler, Clifford Darling, Elwood Donaldson, Arthur Foulkes, Carlton Francis, Arthur Hanna, Warren Levarity, Curtis MacMillan, Uriah McPhee, Maurice Moore, Edmund Moxey, Jimmy Shepherd, George Thompson, Jeffrey Thompson and Cecil Wallace Whitfield. Randol Fawkes who successfully ran as Labour in 1962 and 1967 with the support of the PLP threw his support behind the PLP and became a member of the first Majority Rule cabinet.
He figured prominently in the movement toward Majority Rule. Successful Independent candidate Sir Alvin Braynen threw in his lot with the PLP and accepted the post of Speaker of the House. These two warriors for justice and freedom tipped the proverbial scale in favour of the PLP and the first Majority Rule cabinet was formed: This distinguished group consisted of Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, Milo Butler, Arthur Hanna, Clarence Bain, Jeffrey Thompson, Carlton Francis, Randol Fawkes, Warren Levarity, Curtis McMillan, Clement T. Maynard and Lynden Pindling.