PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday heralded the struggle of those who paved the way for majority rule, saying the historical event should be celebrated by all Bahamians.
In a Majority Rule Day message, Dr Minnis recalled the history surrounding the important day in 1967.
"Between 1942 and 1967, a series of significant events forever transformed the political and social landscape of the country," Dr Minnis said. "The Burma Road Riot in 1942 was the beginning of a new political awareness in The Bahamas.
"In 1953, the Progressive Liberal Party was formed as the first national political party, with William 'Bill' Cartwright playing a central role in the development of party politics.
"Sir Etienne Dupuch's anti-discrimination resolution in the House of Assembly in 1956 was the catalyst for dismantling racial segregation in public places.
"The General Strike of 1958, resulted in much-needed changes to the country's labour laws and electoral representation. Four new parliamentary seats were provided for New Providence. With this new political awareness and activism came a strong resolve to give a voice to every Bahamian, not just a privileged few.
"It was not until January 10, 1967, that the House of Assembly represented for the Bahamian people what has been described as the fullness of democracy. The intervening years witnessed many evolutionary changes, even revolutionary changes, before it became the legitimate expression of the will of all the Bahamian people.
"In the middle of the 20th century the House was firmly under the control of an entrenched oligarchy, who maintained their stranglehold through unjust electoral laws and the brutal exercise of economic power.
"It was then that a new generation of political leaders rose up to challenge the old guard and to bring pressure on the colonial power for change. In the 1960s, some of the worst aspects of the corrupt electoral system were changed and universal adult suffrage came to The Bahamas, with women voting for the first time in 1962.
"So it was that in 1967 the Bahamian people finally voted out the oligarchy and opened a new era of democratic government. We call that day Majority Rule Day. It is a day that should be celebrated by all Bahamians because, among other things, revolutionary but peaceful change had come to The Bahamas.
"A system that had to end one way or another, ended in a peaceful and orderly manner, and of that all Bahamians should be proud."
At a symposium held at the University of The Bahamas yesterday on majority rule, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leader Philip Davis also spoke of the significance of January 10, 1967.
"It is generally accepted by historians that the significance of majority rule is equaled and some may argue surpassed only by the transatlantic slave trade and independence for its transformative impact on the national development, ethos and national identity of this free modern democratic state we call The Bahamas," Mr Davis said.
He said he will petition Dr Minnis to create a statutory commission to oversee official state functions related to Majority Rule Day.
"In the spirit of national unity and bipartisanship, I call on the government to cause for the appointment of a statutory commission to superintend the official state functions that will mark this momentous occasion. The membership should represent a cross section of civil society to create the level of balance and commitment by the government and people of the Bahamas in preserving our history, heritage, culture and national identity. Those thousands of unsung heroes who sacrificed much, even their lives, deserve no less from us the beneficiaries of their sacrifice. I will write the prime minister to initiate this proposal and pledge the PLP's support in this bipartisan effort."