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Movement Towards Decolinization

In: Historical Events

Submitted By LADYJANUARY15
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“Movement Towards Decolonization .” Before I start the basic part of my coursework introduction I would like to define these words and the meaning of this statement .

Movement - an act of changing location or position .

Towards - moving or coming to a particular direction .

Decolonization - to grant independence to a colony .

With my understanding the statement “Movement Towards Decolonization ” is literally meaning that The Bahamas was making a change in government and 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 Pleasantville Company was responsible for the construction . As a result of the expansion, three hundred jobs became available to Bahamians and Americans who were hired to work on this project . However the Americans were paid more than the Bahamian workers even though they performed the same work . Discontent arose among the Bahamian workers and resulted in a riot, and Bahamians also thought this was because racial discrimination because the Americans were white . Hundreds of workers left their jobs at the Oakes Field Airport and marched onto Bay Street . On Monday morning June 1st , hundreds of workers, who carried machetes, sticks or clubs marched into town and gathered in the vicinity of the public buildings which rioting and looting took place where five persons died and many were wounded . The rioters were addressed by few officials who urged peaceful demonstrations . In the main time, however other demonstrations were surging up Bay Street from the West, smashing windows and looting shops . Fire was set to a shop on Bay Street, which had threatened the entire district . Police Officers made an attempt to restore order . The Riot Act was read and a curfew was strictly enforced that same day prohibiting anyone who isn’t a member of arm forces or police from being outdoors between 8pm and 6am . On June 8th the curfew was revoked . Another reason for the riot taken place was economic depression . Bahamians were poorly represented in Parliament which at the time highlighted racial discrimination . As a result of the riot, the governor announced that the wage of the unskilled workers would be raised from 4 shillings to 5 shillings a day . In addition there was a free meal provided . Reforms were seen as a necessity in the field of taxation of representation . There was a need for modern labor legislation to be impacted in the field of trade unionism and workers compensation . It is interesting to note that Randol Fawkes was known as the father of labor .

b) What factors contributed to the social unrest of the 1930’s and the 1940’s?

Their is a history of Trade Unions Movement in The Bahamas during the 1930’s and the 1940’s . It is closely associated with the struggle for social and economic justice for the people of The Bahamas . Before independence in 1973 The Bahamas was controlled by the colony of Great Britain an even though Trade Unions were operating in Britain at the time, the Trade Unions that were in existence in The Bahamas before 1943 were operating illegally . The earliest attempt to form a Trade Union in The Bahamas was recorded in 1866 when employees of The Morton Salt Company in Inagua formed the Salt Workers Union . This union soon became an in-house union and because of the small size of the operation of the company was dissolved . There were two other unsuccessful attempts to form unions here in The Bahamas . In 1935 the Associated Bahamas Car Owners and Taxi Cab Drivers Union was formed . The Modern Trade Union movement in The Bahamas began early in the 1930’s with the formation of the Taxi Cab Union . Trade Unions have played a balance role in the development of the country . The first benefits of Workers in The Bahamas began with the riots of 1942 (Black Tuesday) . Also there was no form of Bahamian government to represent the people of the nation .

Question 2

What effects did the social unrest of the 1930’s and the 1940’s have on the development of trade unions and political parties in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas?

Using Source B, “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 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.” Prior to 1953, there were no political parties in The Bahamas . The Bahamas was governed by a small group of merchants known as the Bay Street Boys . The Bahamas was not represented equally until they organized a political party, forcing the proprietary to do the same . In October 1953 when the Progressive Liberal Party was formed by Black Bahamians . The Progressive Liberal Party was established by William W. Cartwright . The Progressive Liberal Party fought against racial discrimination, also being able to allow women to vote . In 1956 anti-discrimination resolution was introduced in the House of Assembly and was easily passed opening restaurants, hotels and the theatres to those who were once not allowed because of their skin color .

Another effect was in the growth and development of the Trade Union Movements occurred in January 1958, and was known as the General Strike of 1958 . The strike is known to be one of the three significant events that heralded the Labor Movement and solidified its place in history as the catalyst for social economic justice for the Bahamian workers. The primary dispute of the General Strike was between the Government and the Taxi Cab Union . It began on November 1st, 1957 as a result of the Government granting contracts to white tour companies and because of this the Taxi Cab Union was informed that their services were no longer needed . Under the leadership of Sir Clifford Darling and others, the Taxi Cab Union blocked all traffic to and from Nassau International Airport and the Commissioner and his policemen could not do anything about this situation . After several weeks of negotiation an no agreement or settlement was taken place, the Taxi Cab Union called on The Bahamas Federation of Labor led by Sir Randol Fawkes and asked for assistance . The strike was around tourist season . Sir Randol Fawkes responded that a General Strike should be called, not only for the Taxi Cab Union but also to dramatize the fight for all Bahamians for greater dignity and self-respect on the jobsite through decent wages and better working conditions . There was no violence carried out by the striking workers and leaded Bay Street businesses . On 29th January, 1958, His Excellency Sir Raynor Arthur brought representatives of the Taxi Cab Union and the Tour Companies together at a conference where they signed a detailed agreement providing equal division of transportation to an from the airport . Mr. Randol Fawkes was elected to the House of Assembly in 1956 and was the only member of the Labor Party in Parliament . Due to the 1958 strike the pressure was put on by the opposition and the Government of The Bahamas called an election in 1962 . When the opposition could not correct the faults because of the United Bahamian Party’s control in Parliament, the Labor Movement and the opposition went to the International Community . The corrupt charges brought against the United Bahamian Party involved the Casino Industry which suddenly got an reaction from many persons around the World. During election in 1967, and because the Labor Party made sure the word of corruption in Government was spread this made them play a major role . In the 1967 elections there were four candidates from the Labor Party but only Randol Fawkes was successful . There were only 38 seats in the House of Assembly, and the United Bahamian Party and the Progressive Liberal Party 18 seats so because of this the each representative had to make a decision to join together . Randol Fawkes paved the way for Black Majority Rule in The Bahamas . Under the Progressive Liberal Party Government, Sir Randol Fawkes became the first Minister of Labor and embarked on a mission to adopt new Labor legislation that would change the scope of The Bahamas for many years . However, in 1967 the Trade Union Movement was the major factor in the Progressive Liberal Party becoming Government of The Bahamas as a result causing Majority Rule in the Country . Since 1967, the Trade Union Movement has been able to have a powerful effect in the election of both the Progressive Liberal Party and the Free National Movement Government . There are four major events in the history of The Bahamas that mean something to the critical role to the Trade Union Movement played in the growth and development of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas . Also the Trade Union Movement played a significant role in the fight for independence of The Bahamas . Sir Randol Fawkes, who was the member of Parliament and leader of the Bahamas Federation of Labor made the first move in trying to put in place the lead to independence . On September 10th, 1966 Sir Randol Fawkes made a motion on the floor of House of Assembly for a select committee to invite the Government of The United Kingdom to convene a Constitutional Conference to establish the guidelines for the independence of The Bahamas . A wise person once said, “The Labor Movement is the bedrock of the Bahamian economy. If there are no workers in the hotels, no teachers in schools, no nurses in the hospitals, no workers in civil service and corporations, the country would come to a stand still.”

Question 3

You are a member of the Taxi Cab Union during the General Strike of 1958. Give an account of your experiences during the strike.

When the Nassau International Airport had opened, we thought this meant better days to come . Being apart of the Taxi Cab Union our hopes were high because this meant more tourist coming to Nassau, New Providence where this meant we would be able to provide for our families and still could buy a nice watch from the money left, well we thought wrong! It all started in 1957 when the Government had granted the white tour companies the exclusive right to operate transportation services between the Nassau International Airport and the city . Therefore we, the taxi cab drivers were not needed . The Taxi Cab Union officers thought this may cost their company to be out of business . It also threatened our lively hood, wondering how would be able to provide for our families . When my wife heard about this she asked what will I do because there wasn’t any money coming in . I told her I really loved my job, so others and I would push the issue . Our leader of the Taxi Cab Union, Sir Clifford Darling told us, the taxi cab drivers to block all traffic to and from the Nassau International Airport and he took the keys for the taxi’s so we wouldn’t be able to move the vehicles when asked to do so . No one could of control this situation . After several weeks of negotiations that failed the matter erupted again in January 1958 . This came to the height of the tourist season . The officers of the Taxi Cab Union called on Sir Randol Fawkes who led the Bahamas Federation of Labor and asked him to help us with the situation . He responded and said that we should held a “General Strike” with other Bahamian workers who were treated unfair on their jobsites, fighting for self-respect, decent wages and better working conditions . I couldn’t believe the amount of Bahamian workers who not only supported the Taxi Cab Union but other workers and themselves . There was both men and women up and down the West and East of Bay Street . I also remembered British Troops were sent to try get control of the situation but was unsuccessful . At the end of the month of January the Governor brought one of the Tour Company representatives and one of the Taxi Cab Union representatives together to make a deal for equal division of transportation of tourists to and from the Nassau International Airport . Order and peace was brought back at the airport and everyone had a fair chance even the other Bahamian workers, which was a success by getting wage incensement and fair treatment .

Question 4

Study ALL the sources . “The 1942 riot was ultimately responsible for the political changes that took place during the 1950’s and 1960’s . Do these sources prove this view to be true? Explain your answer fully .

Yes the 1942 riot was ultimately responsible for the political changes that took place during the 1950’s and 1960’s, but only Sources A, B, and D I find to be true . Source A says that, “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 parties .” This statement I find to be true because the Burma Road Riot occurred because of unhappy workers who were obviously treated unfairly, different from the White American workers, the Black Bahamian men were payed less than the white workers . Therefore I feel as if it was racial discrimination taken place . About 16 years later there was a General Strike in 1958, where unions were unpleased and because of this these events played a major role in society . They decided someone had to stand out for Bahamian rights . This is where political parties came into place to represent Black Bahamians and not only the workers .

The first political party formed in The Bahamas was in October 1953 known as the Progressive Liberal Party, which can be understood in Source B where it is stated that, “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 to crystallize this awareness into a mighty political force . Someone had opened there eyes and see that the Bahamians were facing major problems not amongst each other but amongst the people they worked around and worked for . They needed to be defended and one person couldn’t have done it alone, so brave men who were dedicated to their country and own people came together and formed something that I won’t call a political party but of leading fathers of our nation who made it better for not only their generation but for future generations . Some like Sir Randol Fawkes, Sir Lynden O. Pindling, Arthur Hanna, Sir Milo Butler, Curtis McMillan, Clarence A. Bain, Sir Clement Maynard, Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield, Carlton Francis, Sir Alvin Braynen, Warren Levarity and Geoffrey Thompson . However Source D I also find to be true because after the riot and the strike there was an improvement of the Government, where they stood up for all Bahamians and Sir Lynden O. Pindling stated and I quote, “When the great heroes of our struggle stood on Burma Road, he intoned, they did not stand alone . When they stood in the General Strike against the property vote they did not stand alone .” Therefore he was right because a political party stepped in and defended the rights of the Bahamian labor unions, where this was a great achievement because if a political party hadn’t stepped in The Bahamas would of probably be the same before the year of 1942, where we would’ve got treated unfairly .


This coursework have open my eyes, to see that Bahamians fought for their rights and the great people who did it from the Progressive Liberal Party, the Taxi Cab Union, the Bahamas Federation of Labor and the Labor Party . Also this helped me to read and understand . Understanding the history of The Bahamas and what great deed those legends did for The Bahamas . Which they made it better not only for their generation but for my generation and generations to come . If it wasn’t for Black Bahamians fighting for their rights, Black Bahamians would’ve of probably still be treated unfairly, some may have live in poverty, lack of non-racial government and no independence from England . This coursework has helped me a lot to understand history and its meanings .

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