History of the Bahamas

Topics: Black people, The Bahamas, Bahamians Pages: 7 (2300 words) Published: March 30, 2013
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 Pleasantville Company of the United States. It was called the Project, which would employ over two thousand Bahamians. Many People from the outer islands came to New Providence joining the already large labor force, that looked forward to the high wages. Although this was an opportunity for steady employment, they nevertheless were upset to find they would only offered the domestic wage rate. Many were disappointed because only the foreign works were paid well. Bahamians workers were paid differently from the foreign workers. Many were disappointed because neither the government or management made any progress about the wage dispute. The wages on these projects were typically pegged to the American wage scale instead of the domestic ones. There was a gross inequality between the wages paid to Americans working on the project and those paid to Bahamians laborers that were engaged in the same kind of work. These conditions didn’t sit well with the Bahamian workers. However there was a change in the economy. Fewer jobs, more competition for jobs as workers returned from International locations and out islanders migrated to Nassau. Although the economic situation in the Bahamas was quite bad at the time. The majority black population in the Bahamas could literally dismantle the edifices of the minority white rule, if sufficiently provoked. On June 1, 1942 weeks after the Project had begin, laborers went to Bay Street and then made quite loud demands for higher wages. The crowd said they would not go back to work until they had some proof about the wages. The crowd of workers, now buttressed by women and children from over the hill neighborhood, gathered outside of the government buildings at Public Square. Mr. Christie, Captain Sears and a number of others tried to convince the mob to go home but to no avail. Eventually, a number of men broke off from the main crowd, tired of listening to what they must have thought was cheap talk. The crowd of workers threw down their tools at Oakes Field job site, then called the Burma Road Project, and marched toward the City of Nassau. Armed with sticks, clubs, and machetes they sang Burma Road...
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