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‘Building a democracy’ may only be a pipe dream

Dear Sir,

Khalid Wasi writes (Letter to the Editor, August 1) “A wave began in the early 1960s but ended too quickly”.

The wave in the Sixties was when the Progressive Group moved the black community to challenge the racist system of segregation. Under its leadership, we successfully desegregated public places.

Then there was the Committee for Universal Adult suffrage. Under its leadership, we successfully challenged the racist system that excluded the majority in the black community, and many others, from participating in the political process. Under its leadership, we successfully achieved universal franchise.

In both of these cases, the leaders of the movement had a single concern: it was the need to address the racist policies by the Government, which were intended to segregate, to demean and to exclude from the economic benefits of the society the black community and thus to create and to maintain two Bermudas.

In each case the leadership was a changing collective with no one person out to achieve personal benefit, prestige, power or status. They were concerned only about the black community and its second-class status and they helped us to make some progress.

Then, tragically, we formed political parties. It was no longer about the black community; it was only about “the party” and, as Khalid Wasi points out, that made it about the “domination and control by the few”.

In the case of the Progressive Labour Party, it very often was not even about “the few”. It was about only the one individual, “the Leader” and the status and prestige that the leadership might bestow. The black community, as a community, has made no progress since.

In any case, Khalid Wasi's concern about “building a democracy” can only be a pipe dream while we are either intent on maintaining two Bermudas or are happily accepting the two Bermudas.

While I realise that I cannot turn the clock back, there is no doubt in my mind that without the formation of a political party, further organic leadership with concern about the black community might have arisen. The Progressive Group made progress socially; the CUAS made progress politically.

It saddens me that the formation of a political party prevented the kind of organic leadership that might have challenged our racist economic system, from which so many in the black community are excluded and which leaves us with so many unemployed black males, and thus might have helped us to make progress economically.

Then we might be moving towards one Bermuda rather than being stuck with two Bermudas, which is so destructive for the black community.


Members of the Progressive Group in 2009. The late Dr Clifford Maxwell, Florenz Maxwell, Izola Harvey, and Gerald Harvey. (Photograph by Mark Tatem)

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Published August 04, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 04, 2016 at 8:35 am)

‘Building a democracy’ may only be a pipe dream

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