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Burma Road

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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 addressed the workers from the steps of the Colonial Secretary’s office hoping to mollify them. ... He warned them to be careful “not spoil the good impression that they had made.” ... Although there were reports that some of the laborers threw their sticks in a heap and went home when they heard this news, for the most part, the crowd became even more incensed. Mr. Christie, Captain Sears and a...

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