Students in Grand Bahama preparing for this year’s History Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations received a lecture on Majority Rule from Dr. Christopher Curry, Chair of the School of Social Sciences at the University of The Bahamas (UB) on Thursday (January 26).
The Freeport News attended the lecture held at the Sir Charles Hayward Library (SCHL) and spoke to Curry about the significance of the event.
Curry stated that the main message he wanted to deliver to the students was that when Majority Rule occurred it was about rights that had to be fought for over a long period of time.
“I think that the instructive lesson of Majority Rule is understanding that it had to be hard fought for by a number of individuals. This wasn’t a short road, this was a long journey that culminated with 1967,” he said.
The Bahamas gained Majority Rule for the first time on January 10, 1967.
This day symbolized the promise of equality and fair play for all Bahamians to have a voice in the country.
Curry added that he wanted to illustrate this by going back to the period of slavery, to show just how many persons were involved in actively fighting for the freedom that is being enjoyed today.
He also wanted to bring clarity to one misconception.
“The point I also wanted to dismiss was that we were never a quiescent, docile acting people, we were always fighting for our rights,” he said.
Curry added that the current generation should know what people were fighting for so that they can “join the struggle.”
He noted that the group of students was very receptive to the lecture and he was fascinated by their take on Freeport, Grand Bahama.
“I’m in Grand Bahama and I want to know their story and talk to them, and share with them what I know about Grand Bahama. I also learned a lot from them. So they understand that there was a struggle for rights in Freeport, as well and they understand that the ‘Bend or Break’ speech that Sir Lynden gave in 1969 had a resounding nationalist message that we should not forget,” he said.
Two of those students spoke to this daily about what they learned from the lecture. Chelsea Williams, a twelfth grader of Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy (MSSCA) stated that she felt the topic of Majority Rule is important for students to learn the significance of the day.
“It gives students a wide spectrum to understand how we as Bahamians have so much equal rights now and that how even to this day, we still don’t necessarily have as much say as we should have in our community and our country,” she said.
Williams noted that many students think that Majority Rule is simply a holiday; they do not know the origins of that day or the meaning behind it.
She said that Majority Rule is not demonstrated as publicly as it should be to educate the youth, and relying on textbooks is not enough.
“With the textbooks, after you read it over a period of time, it just becomes repetitive and you’re not actually understanding what you’re reading,” she said.
Ryan Stewart an eleventh grade student of Grand Bahama Academy said that it is important to understand Bahamian history, “or we would be doomed to repeat it.”
He added that Majority Rule showed how essential it is to understand the dangers of having the wrong people in power and how, as a people, now have the ability to prevent that from happening.
Geneva Rutherford, Executive Director of the SCHL stated that hosting an event about Majority Rule was important to allow people to explore the depth of the topic.
The way Dr. Curry presented it was hugely important, she added.
“He is going back to the source of it that persons always struggled for freedom and that one must always have complete freedom of one circumstances,” she said.
Rutherford noted that Majority Rule was not just a day, and he taught that along with how the struggle went on. She furthered that her greatest hope is not only that the students do well on their exams, “but when we educate young people that they can get a taste of what it means to be involved in society, in civics and the development of our country.”
Rutherford said that the SCHL is open to hosting more events like this once the principals of schools advise them on what they would like for the students.
Published Thursday, February 2, 2017