Premium Essay

Burma Road Riot 1942

In: Historical Events

Submitted By cardo007
Words 2287
Pages 10
The Burma Road Riot
"The 1942 riot in Nassau was a short-lived spontaneous outburst by a group of disgruntled labourers, and occurred against a background of narrow socio-economic and political policies." Quoted from "The 1942 riot in Nassau: A demand for Change?" by Gail Saunders.
"The construction project promised a relative bonanza for 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 for this social unrest are manifold," he told the...

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Factors Contributed to the Social Unrest of the 1930s and 1940s

...Question 1 (a): Write a detailed account of the Burma Road Riot in Nassau, Bahamas.  Riots are thought to be typically chaotic and exhibit herd behavior. This is a form of civil disorder characterized often by what is thought of as disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property or people. This all brings us down to the Burma Road Riot. What is the Burma Road Riot u may ask? This altercation occurred on the 1st of June 1942 on Bay Street and in the Over-the-hill areas of New Providence, The Bahamas. This event inspired a Bahamian singer “Larry Smith” to sing a song Goin' down Burma Road...ain' ga lick nobody. The name 'Burma Road' had currency because of what went on at the same time on the other side of the world. In Southeast Asia, work was underway on the real Burma Road so that the Allies could move troops and supplies into China to fight the Japanese. It is believed that the riot started because of the growing dissatisfaction of the Bahamas’ black majority. It signaled the end of second-class citizenship for blacks in the Bahamas. At this time, local black workers demonstrated in a chaotic manner against discrimination of wages to pay them. The American workers were paid higher wages than the colored people were. They also had more power. One observer, Oscar Johnson, a tailor on Bay Street, remembers that ‚it was a large crowd of people marching down George Street singing ‘We’ll never let the old Flag......

Words: 448 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

History in the Bahamas

...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 by the end of the......

Words: 392 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

History

...Name: Keith Treco School: Prince William High Subject: History Candidate#: Centre#: Question#: 1a Introduction The events of the Burma Road Riots came as a result of the agitation by laborers for equal pay for equal work, regardless of color or nationality. As you know, a satellite airfield was being constructed in Western New Providence for use by the American armed forces. A labor 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. According to “SOURCE A”, “The 1942 riot in Nassau was short-lived spontaneous outburst by a group of disgruntled laborers, and occurred against a backdrop of narrow socioeconomic and political policies”. On June 3, 1942 thousands of Bahamian workers came to Bay Street in a march of solidarity that would come to be known as the Burma Road Riot. The riot was the result of years of oppression of Bahamian workers but was triggered by a wage dispute involving Bahamian construction workers at the Oakes Field Airport. The wages for all workers was set at four shillings ($1.00) per day even though the Pleasantville Construction Company was willing to pay eight shillings per day. The white oligarchy decided eight shillings was too much money for black Bahamian workers, so they influenced the company to pay the workers less. Fortunately, workers from Exuma had previously worked on similar projects in the Caribbean, told the......

Words: 549 - 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

Detailed Account of the Burma Riot

..."Burma Road” has been described as the very first sign of a popular movement in the Bahamas, and in the 1988 memoir of Randol Fawkes (The Faith that Moved the Mountain), he features the birth of the labor movement to the 1942 riots: "As long as Fort Fincastle rests on that immovable rock in our capital city," he marked, "parents shall tell their children, and their children shall tell their own of the saga of Burma Road." For most of the Bahamians Burma Road refers to the 1942 riots over pay for the men who worked on the wartime air bases in Nassau. Two rioters were killed by the British troops, more than 40 people were incapacitated and hundreds were arrested, but those unmatched events also led to long overdue transformations. Explosives were used to puncture through the limestone hills behind the caves to provide fill for the new airfield. But there are more important parallels between what is going on in Burma today, and what took place in the Bahamas 65 years ago. In those days it was illegal for employees to “pool “against their employer. But when the airfield project began mopping up some of Nassau's unemployment, two proto unions came together to form the Bahamas Federation of Labor, which Fawkes later led. As a teenager he recalled the events of June 1, 1942: "When we reached the corner of Marlborough and Cumberland streets we heard a large shout. On looking toward the hilltop we saw hundreds of ragged black workers moving downhill towards us.. Some walked swiftly,......

Words: 307 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Movement Towards Decolinization

...the rights for Bahamians in their own society . They know what they needed to accomplish and where they were headed to become not only independent people but an independent nation to better our Bahamian Society from a colony . In this history coursework I’m going to write a detailed account of the Burma Road Riot in Nassau, Bahamas in 1942 . What effects the Burma Road Riot had on the development of political parties and trade unions of The Bahamas . Also act as a member of the Taxi Cab Union during the General Strike of 1958, where I’m speaking about what I’ve experienced . Lastly is to give an explanation of the sources given which I consider to be true and prove that the 1942 riot was responsible for the political changes that took place during the 1950’s and 1960’s . Question 1 a) Write a detailed account of the Burma Road Riot in Nassau, Bahamas. The Burma Road Riot occurred in the year of 1942 due to unfair wages . During 1942, with the Americans being at war, the US decided to expand Oakes Field to establish new air bases . The...

Words: 2893 - Pages: 12

Free Essay

Bahamas History

...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 ......

Words: 1301 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Blat

...The Burma Road Riot On June 3,1942 thousands of Bahamian workers came to Bay Street in a march of solidarity that would come to be known as “The Burma Road Riot”.The riot was a result of years of oppression of Bahamian workers but was triggered by a wage dispute involving Bahamian construction workers at the Oakes Field Airport.The wages for all workers was set at four shillings per day even though the Pleasantville Construction Company was willing to pay eight shillings per day.The white oligarchy decided eight Shillings was too much for black Bahamian workers,so they influenced the company to pay the workers Less. Fortunately,workers from Exuma had previously worked on similar projects in the Carribbean,told the Other workers that the company was willing to pay higher wages but,were prevented from doing so by Bay Street Boys.As a result a number of requests were made to the Labour Officer by the Bahamas Fedration of Labour for increase wages,but the prevailing attitude was,”take it or leave it”. Once workers learned that the white minority prevented their wage increase,they decided to demonstrate,but the demonstarion became a riot.The city was in a state of emergency,and in the mayhem,stores were looted and four men loss their lives while others were injured.The ruling class could no longer ignore the workers cries for more equitable wages.Following a discussion with the Duke of Windsor where the workers were represented by Milo......

Words: 355 - Pages: 2

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

Free Essay

The Burma Road Riot

...Question: 1 (a) Write a detailed account of the Burma road riot in Nassau The Burma Road Riot in Nassau was caused due to a labor argument in the Bahamas. As stated in Source A, “The 1942 riot in Nassau was a short- lived spontaneous outburst by a group of disgruntled laborers, and occurred against a background of narrow socio-economic and political policies.” This occurred at a time when local black workers demonstrated in a violent manner against discrimination of wages paid to them. They were paid less than the highly paid American workers who were all engaged in the construction of enormous airfields for the U.S. Army, at Oat and Winsor Field, simply known as “The Project”. During this time there was a lot of political unrest in the colonial Bahamas related to political and labor rights and race relations. This all stared during (1939-1945), when Americans began to set up military bases in Nassau, which was advantages because of the clear skies for training airmen and the clear water for training in under water skills. Permission was sought from the British Government for military bases to be built in several Caribbean countries. In the Bahamas, with lend-lease arrangement, permission was given for the U.S firm, Pleasantville Incorporated, under supervision of the U.S Army Engineering Department, to construct two bases at New Providence. The first, known as Man Field, was adjacent to Grants Town where a small landing field was already developed by Sir Harry......

Words: 311 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

History

...Question 1(a): Write a detailed account of the Burma Road Riot in Nassau, Bahamas. In the 1940s, World War II was still happening. The Americans and British wanted to set up bases in West Indian islands, and this included New Providence, Bahamas. A riot came about by the labor dispute amongst the Bahamian workers. They were dissatisfied with the wages they were receiving and decided to address the government about it, but they only received placation from them. During this point, one of the intrepid workers had uttered the words, ‘’Ise a Man’’, for the whites addressed the black workers as ‘boy’. Because of this, the blacks eyes began to open, and this point in history led to the Burma Road Riot. So they rioted and acted amongst themselves. So during the time on June 1st and 2nd, 1942, the riot went on. During the time of World War II, the Americans wanted to build their bases on the island of New Providence. This was known as ‘The Project’, and it would employ over 2,000 Bahamians. People from both New Providence and the outer islands, had flocked to Nassau to be employed on this project. They were looking forward to the high wages that were usually brought along with foreign projects. But their disappointment was evident because they were paid lower than expected. But not only that, the laborers were also angry because the Americans were biased with their pay. The Americans who worked along with them, and did the same jobs as them, were paid higher. The laborers were...

Words: 951 - Pages: 4

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

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

Free Essay

The Burma Road Riot in Nassau

...a) Write a detailed account of the Burma Road Riot in Nassau, Bahamas. The Burma Road Riot started because a labor dispute in the Bahamas. It was an attempt to end economic, political and social injustices in The Bahamas. According to Source A, “the 1942 riot in Nassau or the Burma Road Riot in Nassau was a short-lived spontaneous outburst by a group of disgruntled labourers, and occurred against a background of narrow socio-economic and political policies.” This occurred at a time when local black workers demonstrated in a violent manner against discrimination of wages paid to them. They were paid less than that of the highly paid American workers who were all engaged in the construction of huge airfields for the U.S. Army, at Oakes Field and Winsor Field, simply known as “The Project.” During this time, there was a lot of Political unrest in the colonial Bahamas related to political rights, labor rights, and race relations. This all started during World War II (1939 – 1945), when Americans began to set up military bases in Nassau, which was advantageous because of the clear skies for training of airmen and the clear water for training in under water skills. Permission was sought from the British Government for military bases to be built in several Caribbean countries. In the Bahamas, with lend-lease arrangements, permission was given for the U.S firm, Pleasantville Incorporated, under supervision of the U.S Army Engineering Department, to construct two bases at New...

Words: 2697 - Pages: 11

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