Grand Bahama Majority Rule Day to be Recognised in Grand Bahama
By Senator, The Hon. Dr. Michael Darville
Jan 6, 2010 - 11:44:43 AM
The Hon. Dr. Michael Darville
Grand Bahama PLP Council
It is with great pride that the upcoming Majority Rule Day recognition will
also be celebrated on Grand Bahama under the auspices of the Grand Bahama
Council of the Progressive Liberal Party.
On Sunday, 10th January 2010, the Progressive Liberal Party will celebrate
the 42nd anniversary of Majority Rule. This singular event in Bahamian history played
a significant role in shaping the modern Bahamas we experience today. The
significant events leading up and emanating from Majority Rule must become
permanently etched in the Bahamian historical landscape as these events define
us as a people, reveals what we believe in as Bahamians, and serve as a
constant reminder to us of our vision and values.
With your indulgence, I will give a cursory account of the significant
events surrounding Majority Rule; talk a bit about the meaning of Majority
Rule; and pay homage to the freedom fighters that fought this epic battle in
the name of freedom and justice.
The Burma Road Riots
Many local political historians believe that June 1, 1942 marked the
beginning of the modern political history of the Bahamas. The events of the
Burma Road Riots came as a result of the agitation by labourers for equal pay
for equal work, regardless of colour or nationality. As you know, a satellite
airfield was being constructed in Western New Providence for use by the
American armed forces. A labour dispute ensued over equal pay and this dispute
took on a life of its own and became intimately interwoven with the overall
movement for freedom and social justice. Today that site is the Lynden Pindling
So it is clear that from the first stirrings of political activity in the
country, labour has been an integral part of the struggle.
The birth of the PLP
The Progressive Liberal Party was born out of a movement that embodied the
hopes, aspirations, and feelings of a generation of Bahamians who were
demanding equal work, majority rule, and freedom to pursue any hopes and wishes
they dared conceive.
The man generally credited with conceiving the Progressive Liberal Party
was William Cartwright, a publisher, real estate broker, and Member of the
House of Assembly for Cat Island.
In August of 1953, Mr. Cartwright reportedly invited to the first meeting
on Bay and Frederick Streets, the following men: The Hon. Charles Rodriquez,
Mr. Henry Milton Taylor, Mr. Cyril Saint John Stevenson, Mr. Samuel Carey, Mr.
Holly Brown, Mr. Clement Pinder, Mr. F.W. Russell and others.
Many black businessmen and lawyers were invited to join, but for reasons of
their own, decided not to be identified with the new movement. But the party’s
course was clear from the beginning; the PLP was designed to represent all that
was opposed to unfair privilege and the wealth and power this afforded the Bay
General Strike of 1958
In support of 1957’s protests, a 16-day General Strike brought Nassau to a
screeching halt. Unionized or not, just about every worker participated, and
the strike was quite peaceful. The result was the Trade Union and Industrial
Conciliation Act and the setting up of a Labor Department. The General Strike
took place in January 1958.
Later that year in June, Allan Lennox Boyd, Secretary of State for the
Colonies ordered that the first constitutional steps be taken toward Majority
Rule. The voting franchise was extended to all males whether they were land
owners or not; the once ubiquitous unlimited plural vote was ordered to be
reduced to two and the abolition of the company vote was ordered.
Women’s Right To Vote
In November of 1960 Sir Henry Taylor led a delegation to London to champion
the right of women to vote in The Bahamas. Accompanying Sir Henry were notables
like Dame Doris Johnson and Eugenia Lockhart. Shortly after their return, women
received their right to vote and exercised those rights during the November 26,
1962 general elections.
This new women’s right brought a force and element into the history of The
Bahamas that affected the country’s social, economic and political development.
To this day, the effect of women exercising their right to vote has impacted
all aspects of national life as women from all sides of the political divide
have, and continue to make their contribution to the country, holding key
positions in many offices throughout our country.
On this day, the governing United Bahamian Party sought the approval for a
Boundaries Draft Order, which established the boundaries for the various
constituencies of New Providence and the Family Islands, under the provisions
of the 1964 Constitution. During a sitting of the House of Assembly, the PLP
proposed two amendments to the revision of the Boundaries Draft Order which the
UBP had presented. The amendments were designed to get a fairer idea of the
number of voters and their distribution, but both proposed amendments were
It was at that point that Sir Lynden walked over to the Speakers’ table and
lifted the 165-year-old mace, the symbol of the Speaker’s authority, and said,
"This is the symbol of authority, and authority on this island belongs to
the people and the people are outside."
With that he raised the mace and hurled it through the open window of the
House of Assembly.
The Progressive Liberal Party describes this event as "an act of
deviance in the pursuit of liberty and fairness." So Tuesday 27, April
1965 was destined to go down in Bahamian history as Black Tuesday.
Majority Rule Day
Some have argued that the great significance of Majority Rule was that
after years of struggle by many freedom and justice loving people, the back of
the old oligarchy was finally broken. More importantly, Majority Rule presented
the opportunity for real democracy to come to the Bahamas, underpinned by
equality, tolerance, economic justice, social justice, all important elements
in the creation of a free, modern, democratic state.
All Bahamians benefited, in one way or another, from the historic event
that took place on January 10, 1967, a day that now wears the rather inelegant
appellation of Majority Rule Day.
Majority Rule ushered in the opportunity for all Bahamians to have
constitutional, political, social, cultural and economic rights. Where these
rights were not readily accessible, the Government of the day created laws and
implemented policies to enable these entitlements.
January 10th is a day in the national calendar that belongs to all
Bahamians – not just PLP’s but to all Bahamians, black and white, rich and
poor, young and old, city dweller and Family Islander, and, yes, PLP and FNM
January 10th needs to be commemorated and celebrated by all of us because
it represents one of the truly great and defining moments in our evolution as a
With the exception of Emancipation from Slavery in 1834 and the attainment
of Independence in 1973, there is no event of more consequence and historical
importance than the attainment of Majority Rule on January 10th, 1967.
January 10th, 1967 represents the transition from the old Bahamas to a New
Bahamas; the point of transition from minority government to Majority Rule; the
point of transition to a modern democracy.
It also represents,
however, one of the highest pinnacles in the historic – and still ongoing –
struggle of the Bahamian people for economic empowerment, for equality of
opportunity, and for social justice.
January 10th, 1967, to be sure, 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
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
favor 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.
So in closing we simply say that we in this generation of leadership can
say that the PLP has crafted the foundation for success for our nation’s
economy for generations to come with the diversification of income for the
Family Islands through Anchor Projects, the plans for National Health
Insurance, the University of The Bahamas, the transformation of the City of
Nassau, and a policy commitment to ensuring that Bahamians own a greater
percentage of the Bahamian economy.
As we look to the future, it must be that the average man, making the
average salary, with children to educate to university level; that they see not
a glass ceiling but opportunities that give rise to hope as we work to build
the best little country in the world.
And so, my friends, come Sunday we mark a critically important milestone in
our progress as a people – and to re-commit ourselves to a struggle that never
The Progressive Liberal Party on Grand Bahama will commemorate the 42nd
anniversary of Majority Rule with attendance at two morning services on January
10, 2010. Early morning worshipers are
invited to attend the 7:30 am service at Christ the King Anglican Church, East
Atlantic Drive and Pioneer’s Way on Sunday, January 10th 2010.
The other service will be at the 11:00 am service at the Church of God
Temple, Peach Tree Street, Freeport. (Across
from the College of the Bahamas)
We cordially invite all party members, supporters, and the general public
to worship with us.