Free Essay

Bahamas History

In: Historical Events

Submitted By tfees
Words 1301
Pages 6
Question: 1(a)
Write a detailed account of the Burma Road Riot in Nassau, Bahamas.

So many of the most dramatic and significant social events in the Bahamas history were played out on the stage of Bay Street and, as a result of these events, Bay Street was turn into a place where Bahamians came together in display of unity and a place where they sought to act out dissenting viewpoints. The Nassau Riot in 1942 was a short- lived spontaneous outburst by a group of disgruntled Laborers according to source A. Before the riot of 1942, Bay Street could safely be called, a white controlled space. Although many blacks walked the sidewalks and even, when funds afforded it, shopped in the finer stores on Bay Street. It was with the knowledge that they were just visitors. Even though some blacks were allowed to work in the stores on Bay Street, the choice jobs were not available to them. A man who was admittedly colored could not even talk to a lady of a white family. Color separated the races in housing, education, occupation, and in social intercourse. Two Bases were to be built in Nassau, Oakes Field know as the Main Field and the other in the western end of the island know as Satellite Field. These two bases were to be constructed by the Pleasantville Company of the United States. It was called the Project, which would employ over two thousand Bahamians. Many People from the outer islands came to New Providence joining the already large labor force, that looked forward to the high wages. Although this was an opportunity for steady employment, they nevertheless were upset to find they would only offered the domestic wage rate. Many were disappointed because only the foreign works were paid well. Bahamians workers were paid differently from the foreign workers. Many were disappointed because neither the government or management made any progress about the wage dispute. The wages on these projects were typically pegged to the American wage scale instead of the domestic ones. There was a gross inequality between the wages paid to Americans working on the project and those paid to Bahamians laborers that were engaged in the same kind of work. These conditions didn’t sit well with the Bahamian workers. However there was a change in the economy. Fewer jobs, more competition for jobs as workers returned from International locations and out islanders migrated to Nassau. Although the economic situation in the Bahamas was quite bad at the time. The majority black population in the Bahamas could literally dismantle the edifices of the minority white rule, if sufficiently provoked. On June 1, 1942 weeks after the Project had begin, laborers went to Bay Street and then made quite loud demands for higher wages. The crowd said they would not go back to work until they had some proof about the wages. The crowd of workers, now buttressed by women and children from over the hill neighborhood, gathered outside of the government buildings at Public Square. Mr. Christie, Captain Sears and a number of others tried to convince the mob to go home but to no avail. Eventually, a number of men broke off from the main crowd, tired of listening to what they must have thought was cheap talk. The crowd of workers threw down their tools at Oakes Field job site, then called the Burma Road Project, and marched toward the City of Nassau. Armed with sticks, clubs, and machetes they sang Burma Road declare war on the Conchie Joe, Do Nigger don't you lick nobody, don't you lick nobody.
They headed down Bay Street smashing as they went. The crowd marched to Bay Street carrying clubs and sticks and assembled in Rawson Square, across from Parliament and outside the Colonial Secretary’ s office. Hoping to put their plea for higher wages to someone in authority. Several members of the colonial government and local assembly attempted to clam down the crowd by promising them if they stop what they are doing and go back to work their request would be put into consideration. They were almost persuaded to put down their weapons and go back to work. But members of the crowd saw two things as triggering the riotous acts that took place. One was the crowd attitude to the presence of the police. A portion of the crowd marched singing then turned their attention away from diplomacy and bargaining and began to take their frustrations out on Bay Street. Monday morning sounded like the buzzing of bees as a near by woman sat on her porch. The low buzz got louder and louder as thousands of men and women marched to over the hill from their worksite on their way downtown. Shortly after they arrived on Bay Street the low buzz grew in volume and Intensity and eventually erupted into yells and shattering glass as the crowd rioted and looted the stores. They moved down Bay Street smashing car windows and breaking storefronts. It seem that the people that broke windows were not the same people who were later looting the stores. They lashed out at the shops and the automobiles that were parked on Bay Street. After allowing the rioters and looters free reign on Bay Street for most of the morning , force comprised of police officers and a group of Scottish soldiers who were stationed in Nassau to protect the Duke Of Windsor. This worked and by midday they managed to push most of the crowd over the hill to the poorer neighborhoods outside the city center. There was a standoff in the Grant’s Town area at Cotton Tree and Blue Hill Road between a small crowd of rioters and about forty police officers and soldiers. The crowd was throwing rocks at the officers. During this standoff, one civilian was shot and killed, another was shot and eventually died in the hospital. Also five men were wounded and recovered. The city was in a state of emergency, and in mayhem. The anger vented by the rioters was reflective of the dissatisfactions felt by the entire black working class not just the workers on the Project. Their fight was not against an inadequate welfare system but against a system that oppressed the black majority in the Bahamas. The riot would result in a movement whose final triumph would be majority rule and the dismantling of the system of apartheid that inhibited Bahamian blacks socially. The riot however was more than an isolated act of venting. And although a powerful symbol of black agency that has been referenced again and again in the political struggles of Bahamian blacks. It was considered the first shot in the battle for political change in the Bahamas. At the time of the riot, political and economic life in Nassau was controlled by a small group of white merchants who had there headquarters on Bay Street. The riot marked the first time that a cross-section of black workers skilled and unskilled from all over the Bahamas stood together in a common cause. Although the workers were protesting against what they considered unreasonably low and unfair wages, more generally they were bothered by economic injustice. Fairness was really the issue here. Moreover, the workers were told understandably, albeit mistakenly, believed that the Bay street Boys were to blame for the injustice, they had been mistreated in the past by the Bay Street Boys, injustice bore their fingerprints. As a consequence of the riot, the first awakenings of a new political awareness began to be felt in the hearts of black people, time and the remarkable foresight, courage and initiative of a few dedicated members of that majority were all that were required to crystallize this awareness into a mighty political force.

Similar Documents

Free Essay

History of the Bahamas

...two hundred and sixty thousand square miles, is an archipelago of seven hundred islands and cays known as the islands of the Bahamas. Ruled under a constitutional monarch government, this former British Colony of approximately three hundred and sixteen thousand, one hundred and eighty two people (Bahamas, The Demographics Profile 2013); thrive in competing with neighboring Caribbean countries competing in the hospitality industry; The Bahamas’ number one source. Bahamas deriving from the Spanish word “Baja Mar" meaning "shallow seas", first inhabitant’s where the Lucayans. The Lucayans also known as Arawak’s a label given to them by Christopher Columbus who later mistakenly discovered them, were originally from South America. They were very skillful sailors and fishermen who migrated to The Bahamas sometime during the Ninth Century. The Lucayans were believed to have inhibited the island of Guanahani later renamed San Salvador, for approximately five hundred years. They were then discovered by Christopher Columbus an Italian explorer in the year 1492. Twenty five years after this discovery, the population of about forty thousand Lucayans dwindled down to almost extinct, due to their deportation to Hispaniola for mining purposes and deadly diseases introduced to Lucayans by the Spaniards. Years after Columbus’s discovery other explorers came to The Bahamas. The Eleutheran Adventurers came in year 1647 and The Loyalist arrived sometime between the years 1784-1785. Cotton......

Words: 457 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

History of Tourism in the Bahamas

...HISTORY OF TOURISM IN THE BAHAMAS BEFORE 1945 In 1740, Peter Henry Bruce, a military engineer from England was sent to The Bahamas to make some repairs to forts in Nassau. He was so impressed by the Islands Of The Bahamas and the climate that he recommended that they would aid in the speedy recovery of persons suffering from illnesses. Mr. Samuel Cunard, a Canadian businessman, who owned a transatlantic fleet of ships, was contacted to provide a monthly service between New York and Nassau. Therefore, in 1859 the “Karnak”, a paddle wheel steamer, made the first trip between New York and Nassau. During the Civil War in The United States between the North and the South, Nassau experienced a boost to the tourism industry due to the blockage runners and affluent southerners who wished to exchange goods. This boost to Tourism caused a need for hotel accommodation. Hence, in 1861, The Royal Victoria Hotel was opened. With the increase in hotel inventory, there was now a great need to attract a tourists to fill the rooms. British Army Surgeon, Major Bacot, writing in 1869 pointed out that the climate and the healthiness of the Islands made them ideal for tourists. The greatest problem was getting or encouraging tourists to the islands. Acts passed in 1851, 1859, and 1879 to encourage the travel of tourists to The Bahamas by ships never really proved successful, as many sea disasters occurred. Encouraged by the arrival of 500 tourists to Nassau in 1875,...

Words: 1456 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

History in the Bahamas

...Question 1 (one) a Write a detailed account of the Burma Road Riot in Nassau Bahamas. The 1942 riot in Bay Street and in the Over-the-hill areas (place were the poorer black Bahamians lived) of New Providence was triggered by a labor dispute, but have been described as the first sign of a popular movement in the Bahamas. The Burma Road Riot occurred on June 1st 1942 through June 2nd 1942, when thousands of Bahamian workers came to Bay Street in a march of solidarity. This was a result of the years of oppression of Bahamian workers at the Oakes Field airport. These workers got paid four (4) shillings a day which is equal to one (1) dollar. As a result of this, a number of requests were sent to the labor officer by the Bahamas Federation of Labor (BFL) for an increase in their wages and this request was turned down by the construction company. Once the workers saw that their request for a wage increase was turned down and that it was because of the “white minority”, they decided to demonstrate. These demonstrations then lead into a riot. During this riot, stores were broken into, destroyed and then later robbed; some people lost their lives while others were injured, some were even shot by police officers. After the government could not have regained control, they decided to respond to the request of the people and gave them one (1) shilling per day increase and a free meal at lunch. By doing this, more than half of the workers returned to work on the 4th of June 1942 and......

Words: 392 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Bahamian Social Issues

...Social and Economic development of The Bahamas The economy in The bahamas suffered drasticaly until certain recent events which impacted The bahamas economy greatly. Jobs were hard to find, poverty was on the increase and many were left hungry. Some of the events in bahamian history that impacted the bahamian social and economic development were the civil war,the blockade running, the prohibiton, wrecking, exporting of goods{fruit,vegetables,sponges,sisal,tobacco,shells},and the plaiting of palmetto and silver top trees for exports. Very often bahamians used situations in America to increase their income as in the blockade-running during the civil war and also the prohibition. The first week of the civil war president lincoln declarded a blockade of Civil war which Great Britain's textile industry depended on, southern cotton (clothing,and yarn), so it favoured the Confederacy. Lincoln knew that it was vital for the south to receive war matierals such as guns and ammunition, medicine and clothing via its ports. He figured that if southern ports were blockaded, the entire economy and war effort there would collapse, and northern states would win the war. British ships could not reach southern ports because the Union was blockading them. To gain access to this import, blockade runners in sleek, fast boats would travel the 560 miles from Charleston to Nassau with loads of cotton. Here, they would meet up with British vessels and trade their cotton for the goods that......

Words: 1378 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

History Question 1b

...1b) Write a detailed account of the Black Tuesday events of 1965 in The Bahamas. Black Tuesday was an incredible turning point in the Bahamas and will always be remembered in Bahamian history. The events of that fateful day, coined Black Tuesday by Arthur Foulkes, a borrow expression from the American name of the day Wall Street Crashed. Black Tuesday will forever be considered the most significant event in the struggle for majority rule. On that day ,27th April,1967. Sir Lynden Pindling, then leader of the Opposition, during a heated debate over boundaries threw the mace out the window. It all started with the formation of the first political party, Progressive Liberal Party (P.L.P) by the late Sir Henry Taylor, Cyril St. John Stevenson, M.V.D and William Cartwright in 1953.The General Strike of 1958 showed Bahamians what power they had in numbers following this, the British government made changes to the electoral system. The land qualifications were abolished. Women also pushed for the right to vote. In 1961 this was granted and in the 1962 General Elections women voted for the first time. Though the P.L.P expected to win now that women voted they did not. Instead they only won 8 of the 29 seats. In an effort to change the electoral system the P.L.P called for change in the constituency boundaries. The principle of majority rule had been one for which the P.L.P fought long and hard for in the early years of the party, one of its objectives was to......

Words: 657 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Social Unskillworkers

...Title: The Burma Road Riot Name: Alieth Jeanienne Adderley Student ID#: 000-06-8795 Instructor’s Name: Tracey Thompson Date of Submission: 29th March 2012 The Burma Road Riot, despite being often misunderstood and misinterpreted is still regarded as one of the most significant events in the racial and political history of The Bahamas. Although there were immediate causes of the riot, the social system existing from emancipation fostered dissatisfaction in the hearts of many non-white Bahamians. Prior to 1838, slaveholders who were mostly white were prescribed by law to own black slaves but after emancipation in 1838, Bahamian society was reorganized in a three tier system, the white elite, the coloured middle class and the black masses. Although this system was similar to the model of The British West Indian colonies, The Bahamas, due to its proximity to the United States, was influenced by The Jim Crowe laws existing in The Southern United States which discriminated against African Americans in an effort to control their movements. The white elite, being the former slave holders used any means necessary to maintain their status as the ‘master class.’ This included economic control through the use of the truck, share and labour tenancy systems, which ensured that black Bahamians were in debt, legal means which prevented them from not acquiring land, and social means by using the coloured middle class to create social divisions among the black Bahamians. Bahamian......

Words: 2612 - Pages: 11

Free Essay

Question 1

...Question 1 (a)Write a detailed account of the Burma Road Riot in Nassau, Bahamas. During the time of World War 11, Edward, Duke of Windsor served as governor of the Bahama Islands. It was during his term of office that the Burma Road Riot occurred. This event was destined to change the social, economic and political fabric of life in The Bahamas.In this article, Sir Randol F. Fawkes (1924-2000), better known as the Father of Labour in The Bahamas, gives an eyewitness account of the day he saw “hundreds of ragged, black workers moving downhill towards us. I thought all the gates of hell hand opened and the demons let loose.”Sir Randol Francis Fawkes was knighted by her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 11 for the contribution he made to the development of trade unionism in The Bahamas. Sir Randol Fawkes, elder statesman, attorney-at-law, free trade unionist, civil rights activist, sportsman, author and musician, changed the course of Bahamian history when he helped to usher in majority rule in the country in 1967. In August 1940, by a strange set of circumstances, the former Liege Lord, Edward the Eighth by the Grace of God, of Great Britain and Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India, became the fifty-fifth Governor of The Bahama Islands. This was the second exile for the embattled Duke of Windsor. On December 10th, 1936, this uncrowned Monarch, having abdicated the British throne for the woman he loved, adopted......

Words: 2514 - Pages: 11

Premium Essay

The Bahamas and the Internalnational Government

...Through research, this paper will offer an in depth analysis of The Bahamas and the International Government and will elaborate on the struggles that the Bahamian populace had to endure to create an identity, and find its place among the many countries of the world. In addition, it is expected to identify the historical, economic, and social impacts that shaped The Bahamas as we are today, The afore mentioned elements will be further illustrated to clearly define the Bahamas Government yester-year to the present time. The Bahamas is an archipelagic nation that spans some 1000’s of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. It is comprised of over 700 islands, including rocks and cays. Its closest neighbor to the North west a mere 40 miles away is the United States of America, and to the South, The Caribbean and to the West and to the East, the Atlantic Ocean, which is a divider between the Bahamas and Europe and Africa. The geographical layout of the Bahamas aids in further understanding of the evolution of Bahamian Government. Even though the struggle that marked the way to a majority-ruled, independent nation we still struggle as Bahamians, we still seek to fulfill the final phase of emancipation and become economically empowered, realizing at long last the dreams of those enslaved ancestors to truly become free and independent men and women, responsible and accountable for our own destinies, and limited only by our own imagination, we must demand from those who desire to sit......

Words: 1555 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Burma Road

...The June 1st 1942 labor action that began outside the city centre but culminated in a riot on Bay Street was an important event in the country’s history. It spoke to the growing dissatisfaction of the Bahamas’ black majority with the (very real if relatively mild) system of apartheid that hemmed them in politically, economically and socially. It demonstrated the willingness of the hitherto silent black majority to stand up to their colonial masters and the local ruling white oligarchy. It signaled the beginning of the end of second class citizenship for blacks in the Bahamas. Therefore, this riot continues to occupy a unique place in the Bahamian imagination and has helped to cement Bay Street as the important center in the Bahamas." Quoted from "Bay Street and the 1942 Riot: Social Space and Identity Work in the Bahamas" by Nona Patara Martin and Virgil Henry Storr. The fledgling Bahamas Federation of Labour chose Dr Claudius R. Walker to meet with the Duke of Windsor on behalf of the workers following the riots: "The underlying causes for this social unrest are manifold," he told the ex-king of England. "We are in the majority but we have minority problems. We are poorly housed, poorly fed and poorly educated. Truth to tell, we are the wretched of the earth." What Happened? The crowd of workers, now buttressed by women and children from the black over-the-hill neighborhoods, gathered outside of the government buildings at Public Square. Attorney General Eric Hallinan......

Words: 520 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Descriptive Essay About the Bahamas

...have been my gift but it was still always a no. Finally, after so many weeks had gone by my mother sits me aside and says &Because you are graduating and so is your sister soon, your father and I are going to give you a vacation to go anywhere you want, but there is a price limit; I was in complete shock. The first place that ran through my mind was Greece, but it went way over the limit. As soon as I told my sister, we were looking like crazy for places to go to. Places like Mexico, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Hawaii; the list can go on and on. Then we finally decided to go to the Bahamas and I do not regret it at all. The culture and land was completely different, it was indeed an experience I would never forget. My First trip to the Bahamas made me feel grateful, sympathetic and inquisitive. It was raining when we landed but it did not stop my enthusiasm of simply being on an island of the Bahamas. We already had our own transportation to get to the hotel paid for and I was anxiously waiting for our driver to arrive. Standing there I can just smell the rain and Caribbean all in one, I smelled the lovely blend of oils secreted by the plants. As the driver arrived we got in the car and started heading to our hotel. Already five minutes into the car ride, I was beginning to feel disappointed. I thought that there would be more attractions for tourists as well as beaches and a lot of commotion. I was completely and utterly wrong. Driving by all of the houses and buildings......

Words: 792 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Deez Nutz

...Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress When Columbus first completed the journey across the Atlantic Ocean, he landed in what is now the Bahama Islands, being met be Arawak men in women who marveled by the sight of a white man. The Arawak ha an unrivaled sense of hospitality compared to the Europeans. They believed in sharing everything among the people of the tribe. Columbus, however, only cared about the small amount of gold that he saw on their ears, as that was why he was sent to what he thought was India. After seeing the gold he took some of the Indians aboard his ship to attempt to find more gold. Columbus guilt a fort for some of his crew to stay behind in, while he returned to Europe with the good news. Columbus exaggerated in his report to the King and Queen so he was met with seventeen ships and over twelve hundred men. When he returned to the Arawak he captured fifteen hundred Indians and brought back five hundred to Spain. Those who were not captured were required to mine massive quantities of gold or they would be killed. The amount of gold required was impossible for them to acquire so in two years, half of the original 250,000 were dead. Similar stories could be told about the Aztecs, Incas, and Indians of the eastern coast of North America, as they were all conquered in the same way. Indians were, at first, treated with respect, but then settlers took advantage of them to steal their resources and land. As a result wars occurred between the settlers and......

Words: 709 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Burma Road Riot

...CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF AN ARTICLE # 1 This article entitled “I’se Man Political awakening and the 1942 riot in the Bahamas by Dr. Virgil Henry Storr. Dr. Storr is a Bahamian and a senior researcher at George Mason University who is known to research all forms of history but especially the history of the Bahamas. Also he a research associate professor of economics at the George Mason University. This research article by Dr. Storr a research that retells the story of the Burma Road Riot. During the beginning of the Second World War the Bahamas more specifically New Providence became one of the many training bases for the British and American governments. The British and American governments decided to build their bases in New Providence because New Providence was and still is the economic capital of the Bahamas during this time. At this time the Bahamas government made a deal with these various governments that would bring an increase in jobs for the Bahamian people and more revenue for the Bahamas. However even though the contracts were agreed upon by both parties the Bahamian government didn’t not get as high wages that came with the economic opportunities as expected. The name that this new venture of this supposed to be economic prosperity was called the project. The project caused many men to venture to New Providence in hopes of new jobs with high wages. When many persons started to work on the projects their salaries were lower than expected. Whiles many of the......

Words: 648 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Burma Road Riot 1942

...the local unemployed, a chance to sell their labor for something like the rates they knew were normal on the mainland ... Unknown to them, however, the Bahamas government had agreed to peg local wages for unskilled labor at the rates established in 1936." Quoted from Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People (From the Ending of Slavery to the Twenty-First Century) by Michael Craton and Gail Saunders.  Causes of the Riot  "The June 1st 1942 labor action that began outside the city centre but culminated in a riot on Bay Street was an important event in the country’s history. It spoke to the growing dissatisfaction of the Bahamas’ black majority with the (very real if relatively mild) system of apartheid that hemmed them in politically, economically and socially. It demonstrated the willingness of the hitherto silent black majority to stand up to their colonial masters and the local ruling white oligarchy. It signaled the beginning of the end of second class citizenship for blacks in the Bahamas. Therefore, this riot continues to occupy a unique place in the Bahamian imagination and has helped to cement Bay Street as the important center in the Bahamas." Quoted from "Bay Street and the 1942 Riot: Social Space and Identity Work in the Bahamas" by Nona Patara Martin and Virgil Henry Storr.  The fledgling Bahamas Federation of Labour chose Dr Claudius R. Walker to meet with the Duke of Windsor on behalf of the workers following the riots: "The underlying causes......

Words: 2287 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

Bahamian History

...300/16 19th February 2013 History of Bahamians Who is a Bahamian, where did they come from and what does it mean to be Bahamian? According to Dr. Nicholette Bethel, anthropologist, writer and Professor at the college of the Bahamas, “one’s race is usually the very first thing that is considered when assessing whether one is a “true true” Bahamian or not (http://nicobethel.net.par.2.)”. Nevertheless, there are a number of tangible and intangible things that people denote as being Bahamian. Persons proclaim that Junkanoo is a Bahamian Festival, Rake n Scrape is true Bahamian music, crab n rice is a Bahamian native dish, dialect is the Bahamian language and the list goes on. However, if one were to research the Bahamian past he/she would find that Bahamians never really existed until 1973. One would also become knowledgeable of who Bahamians truly are and how being Bahamian came about. Therefore, Bahamians were not defined by history until the Bahamas had gained independence. When the Bahamas separated from Britain and became an Independent Nation, Laws and Principles were established which stated who a Bahamian is/isn’t and how one could become a Bahamian. Firstly, as stated in the constitution of the Bahamas, Chapter II Citizenship “ Every person who, having been born in the former Colony of the Bahamas Islands, is on 9th July 1973 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies shall become a citizen of the Bahamas on 10th July 1973.” The Bahamas was once a British......

Words: 1220 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Migration

...The Haitian Diaspora in the Bahamas By Ria N.M. Treco Florida International University Department of International Relations April 17, 2002 Introduction Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with about 80% of the Haitian population living in abject poverty [1]. Many factors contribute to the economic status of this country including: lack of proper education, overpopulation, environmental problems, and subsequent lack of jobs. All of these factors must be pointed out in order for one to fully understand the reasons for the mass migration that is taking place from Haiti into other countries of the world and more specifically into the Bahamas. Haiti has one of the lowest adult literacy rates in the world with only 48.8% of the total population above age 15 being able to read and write simple sentences. According to the Human Development Report, Haiti ranks 134 out of 162 countries for the adult literacy rate. Furthermore, Oxfam International ranks only four countries in the world lower than Haiti for the availability of basic education for its people. There is inadequate healthcare in Haiti as well. In 1999, the US Agency for International Development in Haiti implemented new programs to make Haitians aware of family planning, however, only half the population of Haiti has access to these facilities. This is closely related to the problem of overpopulation in Haiti. Haiti is one of the most densely populated countries of the Western Hemisphere with upwards......

Words: 5238 - Pages: 21