In 1957, when a visiting Colonial Office official from London, came to the Bahamas, he accepted a dinner invitation from the predominantly negro and coloured, political Opposition, Progressive Liberal Party.
During the dinner, out of customary manners, Mr. F. Kennedy, the Colonial Office representative, fell into making a toast to his hosts, the predominantly negro and coloured, Progressive Liberal Party. Kennedy would later write in confidential papers to Bahamas Governor Sir Arthur Raynor that because of the sequence of events evolving during dinner, he was taken by surprise. Kennedy would say, out of polite manners, he had no choice but to make the toast.
Consider that in 1957, a white British colonial official, having dinner with coloureds and negroes, from what was seen as a fringe, rabble rouser, political party, was about as sensational an event that could ever happen, in racially segregated, socially separated, Nassau.
This dinner and toast, heard about around the Bahamas, was viewed with anger by influential United Bahamian Party whites, who made up the majority party, in power. To them, it was seen as Britain grossly interfering in local island politics.
Members and supporters of the Progressive Liberal Party however, saw it as an early acknowledgement by Britain that, they were finally ready to listen to the voices of the people.
Whatever it was, this dinner ignited a firestorm of vitriol lobbied between the ruling United Bahamian Party, local newspapers, political supporters on every side, British Colonial officials and the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party leadership.
SECRET WEST INDIAN FILE ON PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY (1957 – 1959) CLOSED UNDER 30 YEAR RULE – OPENED IN 1988 (London: National Archives)
ORIGINAL LETTER FROM PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY, OCTOBER 19th. 1957 SENT TO HIS EXCELLENCY SIR OSWALD RAYNOR ARTHUR, GOVERNOR IN AND OVER THE BAHAMA ISLANDS
LETTER ASKING FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE, UNIVERSAL ADULT SUFFRAGE, END COMPANY VOTE, END 7 YEAR ELECTIONS, CHANGE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, INTRODUCE MINISTERIAL SYSTEM, REMOVE PLURAL VOTING, INTRODUCE SINGLE CONSTITUENCY REPRESENTATION
ETIENNE DUPUCH CLAIMS THAT PLP IS BEING BACKED BY MONEY FROM A MEMBER OR MEMBERS OF THE WHITE RACE
RESPONSE BY K. WALMSLEY, BAHAMAS GOVERNMENT HOUSE ON MEDIA ATTACK ON COLONIAL REPRESENTATIVE BECAUSE OF DINNER WITH COLOURED MEMBERS OF PLP
“The whole thing is nasty political manoeuvre which has caused much anger on the PLP side and amongst a great many other people who are not concerned with politics. It is being taken as an insult to a guest who had no other purpose than to meet and listen to all sides. Resentment is great because it is known that Kennedy received hospitality from the leader of the majority party, but this hospitality is to go unquestioned while the hospitality by coloured people is to be publicly argued about.”