My brothers and sisters:
Today, we come together to honour the founding father of our nation, and the many others who fought alongside him.
We come together to remember the days before Majority Rule, and to appreciate the modern, independent nation we’ve built in the years since.
And we come together to dedicate ourselves to the important and urgent work still ahead.
We rightly begin by honouring our nation’s founding fathers and mothers — and the many generations before them.
The slaves across our islands who fought to survive, who rebelled and resisted, the workers who marched on Burma Road, the extraordinary women who fought for suffrage, the many thousands of Bahamians who were galvanized when Sir Lynden threw the mace out of the window of the House of Assembly…
There can be no doubt that we are the beneficiaries of a struggle that has stretched across many generations.
We are here because of their vision, their faith, their sweat and tears, their willingness to face dangers and endure sacrifice.
We proudly inherit – and inhabit – their spiritual and cultural legacies.
All shaped the journey to Majority Rule.
Fifty-seven years ago, the ruling UBP party called a snap election, many months early, hoping to block the momentum of a growing PLP.
The result was a political and national earthquake.
Majority Rule was an exhilarating, transformative achievement – a vindication, a liberation, a new emancipation.
The Bible tells us that on the tenth day of the first month, slaves were released from bondage by the Pharoah.
And it was the tenth of January in 1967…the tenth day of the first month…that marked the first time in the history of these islands that the people won power.
A Bahamian government dedicated to serving all citizens, not just a privileged few – this was a revolution not just in the halls of Parliament, but in the hearts and minds of the people.
In the years before Majority Rule, despite all the injustices and unfair constraints, Bahamians across our islands built vibrant communities, with skilled entrepreneurs, musicians, craftsmen, teachers, healers, artisans, and religious leaders. There is much to admire – and learn from – those days. Excluded from many workplaces, schools, and establishments, we built our own – many Bahamians remember the thriving communities over-the-hill, where Bahamian talent lit up Bahamian-owned nightclubs and restaurants, night after night. It is an uncomfortable paradox that the hard-earned lifting of many legal constraints on Bahamian employment also led to the end of many of these flourishing businesses.
But we cannot over-romanticize a time when too many Bahamians had internalized the most pernicious and malignant prejudices.
Majority Rule presented the first large-scale opportunity to show – to ourselves, and to the world — what we could achieve.
Here’s what happened next:
We won our sovereignty.
We built strong democratic institutions and traditions.
We built professional security forces, a Central Bank, a first-class college and then university.
Bahamian children from settlements across our islands, from the humblest of circumstances, took hold of new educational opportunities – and became our nation’s top doctors, lawyers, educators, entrepreneurs, jurists, athletes, and artists.
Together, we took a legacy of strength and determination, and we built our beautiful country.
Now we have the great honour of dedicating ourselves to new progress in the enduring fight for dignity, security, and justice.
That’s why we are fighting to create new and abundant Bahamian ownership opportunities in our economy – we need more ladders up to security and success.
We are fighting for The Bahamas on the world stage – so small island countries – and black-governed countries — are treated fairly.
We are fighting the pollution which is driving the climate changes which are making hurricanes more intense. Four Category 4 and 5 storms in under a decade have cost us billions, money we could have invested in our people and in our national development.
We are fighting the guns that flood across our borders, and the violence and crime that is haunting too many of our homes and communities.
We are fighting apathy, and despair, deception and disinformation.
And no matter how hard these fights are, we must push forward.
The right policies matter, big and small.
We are now providing hot breakfast to thousands of our schoolchildren, so that many more of our beautiful, bright children can start their day ready to learn.
We are embarking on transformative energy reform, so we can finally power our country with cleaner, more affordable energy.
We are investing in agriculture and innovation, so that we grow more of what we eat at home, reducing our dependence on expensive imports, and generating new opportunities across our islands.
Our new National Youth Guard means that young Bahamians will play a crucial role in strengthening our national emergency preparedness and response, while learning important professional and technical skills.
The fight for justice, and dignity, and security – is a fight that endures.
And let me be clear: while we can and should be very proud of the historic, fundamental role the Progressive Liberal Party played in achieving Majority Rule – the importance and the promise of Majority Rule belong to all Bahamians.
Indeed, Majority Rule stands for the unassailable principle that every Bahamian, irrespective of background, has the right to have a voice in shaping the destiny of our nation.
Sir Lynden – sustained and guided by the support and wisdom of his wife and family, strengthened by the courage of ordinary Bahamians – saw the way forward — and he used his many talents to make sure others could see the path, too.
Today, we commemorate Majority Rule day so that we never forget how hard we had to fight to have our voices count in our own country.
We commemorate Majority Rule day so that we never forget we come from people who had to fight for every inch of progress.
And we commemorate Majority Rule day as a call to action, because now it’s our turn to fight.
On behalf of my wife Ann Marie, my Cabinet and Parliamentary colleagues, the Government of The Bahamas, and the officers and members of the Progressive Liberal Party, I extend best wishes and highest regards to the people of The Bahamas as we celebrate 57 years of Majority Rule.
May God Bless you all, and may His grace continue to shine upon the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.