Black Tuesday refers to a day in Bahamian history, April 27, 1965. The then-Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister of the Bahamas Sir Lynden Pindling threw the Speaker’s Mace out of the House of Assembly window in protest against the unfair gerrymandering of constituency boundaries by the then ruling United Bahamian Party (UBP) government. Thursday the 16th day of April, 1965, around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the draft order providing for the new constituency boundaries under section 63 of the 1964 constitution was in session in the house of assembly.
In the chair was Dr. Raymond .W. Sawyer, the Deputy Speaker; on the floor was Sir Milo Butler, the member for the Western District. Sir Milo Butler shouted out in range at The Chairman “This Constituency Commission had done wicked things in cutting up New Providence and the Out Islands in a damnable way in order to give themselves the Minority Government a distinct advantage in the next General Elections” Sir Milo continued talking without ending.
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Only a little bit of grain of sand was in the quarter hour glass, the Chairman turned to Sir Milo and said, “I am very sorry but the member’s time has run out”, “Sir Milo replied “It’s very kind of you to remind me, but I intend to talk on. I ain’t going to let any grain of sand stop me from talking. Don’t throw sand in my mouth just yet I ain’t dead yet”. The Deputy Speaker noticed that Sir Milo Butler reached further than he should, suspended the proceedings and reported this incident to the Speaker, The Hon.
Robert (Bobby) Symonette. The Speaker, having been informed, turned to Sir Milo Butler and asked him to be seated. The people’s champion misunderstood the language of parliament. “I am not addressing my chair. I am addressing this House,” he replied. Due to his disobedience Milo Butler was named under rule 37, It was then motion seconded to Hon. Geoffrey A.D Johnston and it was passed. The Speaker turned, to Milo and asked him to please withdraw.
He acted out and didn’t want to withdraw. He continuously pound his right fist on the table, scattered papers and said, “If I leave Mr. Speaker you are going to have to take me out”. That was his last refusal. It took four police-sergeants to physically remove Sir Milo from The House of Assembly. Shortly after that, A.D. Hanna spoke over his time limit and he also refused to stop speaking and was carried out by two police men, But Mr. A.D. Hanna wanted equal rights; he wanted four police men to carry him out as well therefore two more carried him out. Tuesday, 27 of April a week later the House of Assembly met again which was the reply to the April 16th meeting. In the Speaker’s elevated chair was the Honorable Robert .H. Symonette and on his right was his father, the Premier, Sir Roland .T. Symonette. On the Speaker’s left was the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Lynden .O. Pindling and members of the P.L.P further down.
The P.L.P wasn’t so different from Sir. Milo Butler, they opened windows when the room was air-conditioned; they stamped their feet’s and beat on tables ranted and rave in one gesture against the draft constituency order. Sir Lynden Pindling lifted the ancient mace from the Speaker’s desk and said “This mace is the symbol of authority, and the authority for the islands belongs to the people, and the people are outside of this House and so this mace belongs outside too.” Sir Pindling threw the mace through the window while Sir Milo butler threw the two quarter hour glasses out of the same window. The P.L.P all stormed out of The House of Assembly, where they were welcomed by a crowed of their followers on Bay Street. It brought a halt for an hour or so, however after the mace was replace. The U.B.P’s had power laboured long and hard and finally passed the Draft Constituency Order into Law nevertheless the official opposition’s absence.
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