Prime Minister Davis’s remarks at the Step Up! Rally & Expo

Thank you, Minister Bowleg.

I know a lot of people here join me in appreciating the many ways you’ve mentored and supported and coached young Bahamians.

So I am thankful for that kind introduction.

It’s wonderful to be here.

We have some great speakers and guest videos and we’re going to have some fun…but before that, 

I have some things on my mind – some things I really want to say to you – so I’m going to skip the formalities and jump right in.

And I’m not going to spend time telling you my own story today, because we’re here to focus on your stories.

But I want you to know that I understand what it’s like to be underestimated, because of who you are, what you look like, where you come from, what your family has or doesn’t have.

And I want you to know that I don’t underestimate you.

In fact, not only do I see your strength – I’m counting on it. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

You may have seen me around in your neighborhoods, talking to your grammies and your cousins and whoever else wants to tell their Prime Minister what my government is doing well and where we’re falling short.

That’s always an educational experience for me….we Bahamians never seem to run out of strong opinions.

So I’ve been lucky to be able to talk with some of you. 

And I know some of what you’re going through…and what you’re hoping for, and the obstacles that are standing in your way.

I am not here to tell you that those obstacles aren’t real, or that the government can remove all of them, or that you can overcome all of them with a good attitude.

I respect you too much to tell you that.

It’s true that a lot of good people are working hard, inside and outside government, to help you find the opportunities you deserve, but it’s also true that we can’t go back in time, and erase the fact that some of you have had to grow up too fast, with heavy burdens that you should not have had to carry.

While we wish for you peaceful homes and peaceful streets, and while we are working hard for change, for too many of you, that is simply not your reality today.

And while we have made progress in The Bahamas, the truth is, too many people are still operating from prejudice, without respecting you as individuals who deserve to be judged on your merits and strengths.

If you think that plenty of things about life aren’t fair, I’m not here to contradict you.

But I am going to ask you to be optimistic, and brave, and strong, anyway.

That’s because I want for each of you what I want for my own sons – I want you to make the most of your talents, I want you to live lives of purpose, and I want you to be surrounded by the love and affection and respect you deserve.

And the truth is, we can’t build a better country or a better future without your strength.

We need your energy. We need your creativity. We need your ideas and imagination.

We need you to step up, as a new generation of Bahamian entrepreneurs, to help us build a stronger, more dynamic economy.

In this fast-changing world – we need you to learn everything you can about technology and innovation —  and then use what you know to power progress across our islands.

We need you to step up – even if the ladder seems very steep.

I’m asking you to think not just about personal ambition, but our shared national ambition, too.

You may be young, but you have already lived through times of great disruption. You have seen the destruction of a Category 5 hurricane. You know that guns and drugs and viruses can cross borders.

I spend a lot of time standing up for our country in global forums, because while some of our problems are home-grown, plenty come from outside, too.

Climate scientists tell us that even if countries keep all their promises to reduce carbon emissions, we are still in for a rough ride in the coming years, with hurricanes made stronger and more destructive by warming oceans.

Minister Bowleg and his team did an excellent job launching our country’s first National Youth Guard, because we recognized that we needed our strongest citizens – our young people — to protect and rescue Bahamians during the intense storms we know are coming.

We’re not going to count on outside help. 

Instead, we’re going to count on you. 

I hope you’ll consider becoming a part of this – it’s a way to gain important skills for your own careers, while training to serve on the front lines during this new climate era.

I’m working hard to change things in this country – but the changes you make in your own lives are going to be just as central and consequential for our country as any laws we can pass.

The barriers you face are real, but today I am challenging you to believe this: your capacity to overcome them is also real.

Set aside whatever hardships or mistakes or imperfections were present in your first chapter of life, and know that with God’s grace, there are still many more chapters ahead for you.

You don’t have to see all the way into the future – in fact, in five and ten and twenty years, many of you will be doing work we can’t even imagine today, in professions that don’t yet exist in 2024. 

You don’t have to see all the way up the ladder – just keep doing the next right thing, just keep stepping up.

Thank you, and God bless you all.