Tuesday, January 14, 2020
EDITOR, The Tribune
As a youngster back in the 1960’s the United Bahamian Party (UBP) was in full bloom. It emerged after the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and was comprised of what was then known as the Bay Street Boys, who were mostly white or Conchy Joe Bahamians. Of course, there was a small number of black Bahamians who embraced the UBP for whatever reasons. The late Reverend Gentry McPhee and Napoleon McPhee along with the late Prince Hepburn come readily to mind.
The PLP really came into its own after we achieved internal self governance in the mid 1960’s. During that decade the social and racial issues were in full swing in the United States of America. No doubt due to our proximity to the USA those issues were also playing out here at home. Americans, like the late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell (Dem-NY), and Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King used to frequent The Bahama Islands, as we were then known, especially Bimini and New Providence. They threw their support behind the emerging PLP.
Racial overtones were in full swing during this period and the PLP and its leadership, headed by the late great and deeply missed Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling, who was black just like me; the late Cyril Stevenson (a light skinned man ); Henry Milton Taylor (another light skinned man) and the late William Cartwright (yet another light skinned man), et al, played the racial card to the hilt.
“Lilies of the Field”, with a Black man, Sidney Poitier, descended from Cat Island, in the starring role had just been released. This movie along with the classical films: Roots and Gone with the Wind did much to galvanize the message of the PLP that blacks were equal to whites here in The Bahama Islands. Their message was that the members and supporters of the UBP were inherently racist and wanted to keep blacks in servitude.
The PLP rode that message to success in the general elections of 1967 and again in 1972. We became independent a year later in 1973 and our black population were of the mindset, collectively, that Heaven had arrived on Earth. Sadly this was not in fact the case. While the races have been reconciled and we all get along well, there are still some among us who are still living in a time warp and playing the bogey man of racial discord. While no one is trying to rewrite history, the much to do about nothing reaction by the PLP and its leadership relative to the knighthood awarded to Sir Godfrey Kelly, a former member of Parliament for Cat Island and distinguished Minister of Education, is just that, much to do about nothing.
Over the years I have come to personally know Sir Godfrey as head of chambers at Messrs. Higgs & Kelly. He may have come from a privileged background, but so what, so did I? He had no say in the selection of his Bahamian parents or the colour of his skin. Sir Godfrey is associated with Kelly’s Home Centre; Kelly’s Lumber Yard and a major aviation company at NAD. He just stepped down as Managing Partner at the law firm. Those businesses employ hundreds of black and white Bahamians. Sir Godfrey represented Cat Island for many years and did a wonderful job according to many.
It is unfortunate that today there is a handful of black Bahamians, who should know better, but are still beating the long dead and decayed United Bahamian Party (UBP) horse. One would have thought that by now we’d have emerged from the days of racism and rehashing old bogeyman issues. Yes, racism does exist today but if you check it it is more economic than anything else. Yes, colour does matter, but I must say that within the PLP a light skin is still an apparent advantage.
Had Christie not lost his seat in Centreville and if the PLP had won the 2017 general elections, my good friend and patron, the Hon. Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, QC, (PLP-Cat Island) would never have emerged as leader. Prior to Christie’s ignoble departure, he was seen as the great white hope within the party. Few in the Christie-led PLP saw black Brave as an alternative. In my view neither Christie nor Ingraham had any love, politically, for black Brave.
January 5, 2020