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Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880-1960$
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Gail Saunders

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062549

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062549.001.0001

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The Formative Years, 1950–1958

The Formative Years, 1950–1958

Political Organization, Race, and Protest

7 The Formative Years, 1950–1958
Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880-1960

Gail Saunders

University Press of Florida

Chapter 7 describes the 1950 establishment of the Citizens’ Committee, comprising mainly nonwhite middle-class professionals concerned with the extreme discrimination upheld by the Bahamian white elite, many of whom were wealthy. In 1953, three light-skinned mixed-race men, William Cartwright, Cyril Stevenson, and Henry Taylor—described as “outsiders”— founded the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), which emphasized the presence of racial discrimination in most aspects of Bahamian life. Declaring itself the enemy of the Bay Street politicians, it was founded to end corruption and poor administration. Demanding political and social change, it pledged to be a party for all men and to enfranchise women. It also promised to improve the educational system. The more conservative Bahamas Democratic League (BDL), also critical of racial inequalities, formed in 1956. Embarrassed in 1953 and 1955 by incidents of racial discrimination against eminent black West Indians, Etienne Dupuch, a supporter of the BDL, took action, moving an antidiscrimination resolution through the House Assembly on 23 January 1956. This resolution, which condemned racial discrimination in public places, was unanimously passed by the house. In 1956 the PLP, in its first election as a party, won six of the twenty-nine seats. Henry Taylor, PLP chairman and leader, was defeated while Lynden Pindling won his seat and was elected parliamentary leader of the party.

Keywords:   Citizens’ Committee, racial discrimination, William Cartwright, Henry Taylor, Cyril Stevenson, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), Bahamas Democratic league (BDL), Etienne Dupuch, Lynden Pindling

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