The victory of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in January 1967, which ushered in the first Majority Rule government in the Bahamas, garnered praise, support, anger, incredulity, and even a coldly calculated indifference from some in the international community.
It was the indifference, by those in power, especially in the United States, which seemingly made new negro Premiere Lynden Pindling very nervous. The first negro majority government had not been expected to win, by any international allies, most of all, by the very powerful United States of America. By 1967, the good old United States, which was in the midst of its own civil rights fight and race turmoil was the largest trading partner for the Bahamas. American tourist dollars underpinned the Bahamian tourism economy. In turn, the Bahamas imported the vast majority of its food stuffs, appliances, cars, furniture, buildings materials and much more from the US.
In 1967, the United States, like Great Britain, were counting on leadership continuity within the Bahamian government. The United Bahamian Party, the UBP, the white minority government were expected to win by a comfortable margin.
Too many deals were on the table. Too many irons already in the fire. An upset at the polls could derail major casino gambling deals and development deals already in place.
The upset at the polls sent shockwaves across the world.
New Negro Premiere Lynden Pindling, just less than a month into his role as political leader of the Bahamas, soon realised his administration needed someone in the United States smoothing the path for him and his new PLP government. The early icy reservedness of President Johnson’s Administration needed thawing, but from the inside.
It was probably the unlikely coincidence that President Lyndon Johnson, and the new Bahamas Premier Lynden Pindling had the same first name on spelled slightly differently which undoubtedly took the American administration by surprise.
On February 1, 1967, it was announced that Premiere Lynden Pindling hired someone, who by anyone’s imagination, was one of the most famous and revered negro personalities in America.
Pindling asked former baseball player, Jackie Robinson, to be a special representative of the new Bahamas government in the United States.
JACKIE R. ROBINSON
By 1967, it had been exactly twenty years since Jackie Robinson had broken the colour barrier in professional baseball in deeply divided, deeply segregated America in the 1940s.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson, an American professional baseball player, became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era of the sport. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947.
Twenty years later, Robinson had gone into politics becoming special assistant to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.
(The Mt. Vernon Register, Saturday, 29 April 1967)
JACKIE ROBINSON IS NEW REPRESENTATIVE OF BAHAMIAN REGIME
“NEW YORK (AP) – Former baseball star Jackie Robinson disclosed that he had registered with the Justice Department as a representative of the new Bahama government of Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling.
He also declared that he had written Vice President Hubert Humphrey criticising the Johnson Administration for allegedly failing to “congratulate” the newly elected Negro leader and offer him a “helping hand.”
“If such an event had happened any place other than in a Negro community, wires and invitations would have been sent long ago, he said.
Robinson, a special assistant to Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, said he would fly to the Bahamas Friday with Dr John R. Camp, executive vice president of the American International Association for Economic and Social Development, an organisation founded 20 years ago by the Rockefeller brothers to help improve living standards in Latin America.
Robinson said they would try to find out how the organisation could best help the Bahamas.
He added that he was carrying an invitation from Gov. Rockefeller to Pindling to visit New York.”
(The Falls Times, New York, Wednesday, 01 February 1967)
PAPER SAYS COMPLAINT IS ‘SNIPE’
Jackie Robinson’s formal letter of complaint to US President Lynden B. Johnson that the American government basically ignored the majority rule election victory of the Progressive Liberal Party, and its leader Premier Lynden Pindling, neither congratulating or recognising it, did not sit well with Nassau Tribune Editor, Sir Etienne Dupuch.
By February 10th, 1967, Sir Etienne had quickly fired back on the February 1st, 1967, media publication of Robinson’s complaint to the President of the United States.
Dupuch called Jackie Robinson’s complaint nothing but “political snipe,” a political attack, in an attempt to squeeze the President’s administration on matters pertaining to coloured people in America, now that significant changes had occurred in The Bahamas.