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Time to end resentment toward Sir Stafford Sands and UBP

Dear Editor,

 The United States has just celebrated its 244th independence, as it struggles to grapple with the issue of racial polarization, nearly seven weeks after the killing of African-American George Floyd.

Black Lives Matter organizers, along with its surrogates, appear to be hell-bent on erasing America’s rich heritage and history, which are steeped in chattel slavery and institutional racism.

Founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, Edward Rutledge, Richard Henry Lee, James Madison, Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase and Button Gwinnett were all slaveholders. The writer of The Star-Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key, also owned slaves.

In a shocking display of dualism, the builders of the United States led the Revolutionary War against England with the aim of securing their colonies’ freedom in 1775, while refusing to emancipate the 500,000 slaves, due to their deep-seated prejudice toward black people.

The merchandising of human cargo lasted for 246 years, between 1619 and 1865 — the year Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation — much to the chagrin of the 11 Confederate States that were defeated in the Civil War.

Notwithstanding the official ending of slavery, African-Americans still had to contend with Jim Crow segregation laws, the Ku Klux Klan and widespread racism, until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and beyond.

With the move afoot to dismantle and deface national and Confederate monuments throughout the states by Black Lives Matter protesters, inclusive of Mount Rushmore, the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument, President Donald Trump has dug in his heels in defiance, with the goal of appealing to his mostly white base months before Americans head to the polls.

Interestingly, Mount Rushmore was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, a racist and Ku Klux Klan supporter who referred to immigrants as “slippered assassins”.

Borglum’s Stone Mountain Confederate carving in Georgia was partially funded by the Ku Klux Klan.

To those Bahamians who are imitating Black Lives Matter organizers, the political situation in our history with the United Bahamian Party (UBP) and Sir Stafford Sands, while marred by a mild form of institutional discrimination, never reached the level of violence that African-Americans endured.

To the best of my knowledge, the Bay Street Boys never flogged or lynched anyone. Truth be told, the UBP was widely supported by Black Bahamians, even to the extent of fielding Black candidates in the 1960s. The case can be made that Sands, the first tourism and finance minister in the UBP government, was also a founding father of the modern Bahamas, as was Sir Lynden O. Pindling.

It was Sands and the Bay Street Boys who created the financial and tourism industries, which ushered in an era of unprecedented prosperity that many Bahamians have enjoyed.

Both the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement have simply built on these two important foundational industries.

Consequently, it was unfortunate that Black Bahamians got all riled up when it was announced that Sir Stafford’s image would be placed on the $10 banknote in 2000, by the former Ingraham administration.

It was under the UBP that The Bahamas achieved internal self-government status in 1964, which laid the groundwork for independence in 1973.

It was the UBP that directed the conversion of the Bahamian currency from the British pound to dollars in May 1966. And it was under the UBP that The Bahamas achieved women’s suffrage in 1961.

If Sands was racist, as Bahamian Black Lives Matter imitators have alleged, why, then, did he open up economic opportunities for Bahamians in the Over-the-Hill areas of Nassau? Why was he interested in revitalizing that area’s economy?

Why did he hang out at the Conch Shell nightclub on Blue Hill Road, as per the late Coconut Grove PLP MP Edmund Moxey?

Why did he wine and dine Black Bahamians at his palatial East Bay Street mansion, and in his yacht, named Enchantress, each election cycle?

Racist American President Woodrow Wilson, who segregated the federal government, would’ve never emulated Sands in this regard.

Whatever issues The Bahamas in 2020 is plagued with, cannot be blamed on the policies of the now-defunct UBP, Sands or Sir Roland Symonette. 

Black Bahamians have been in charge of this country for the past 53 years. We cannot blame the UBP for the crime and financial mess the country finds itself in.

We cannot blame the UBP for the perennial D grade being produced in our educational system.

It is past time that Black Bahamians end the resentment toward the UBP and Sands.

 

Kevin Evans

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