On November 25th, several thousand determined Bahamians came together to stand up for their right to be heard and for the future of the country. The Black Friday march attracted an estimated 3,000 demonstrators who marched from Arawak Cay and blocked Rawson Square in a bid to have their issues heard.
In the square, prominently featured next to The Parliamentary Registry’s tent for voter registration and the #WeMarch movement’s focus group sign up station, The Campaign for The Bahamas team stood ready at their booth with tablets and clipboards in hand.
Shortly after The Black Friday March was announced The Campaign for the Bahamas issued a statement supporting the initiative as an exercise in nation building with the potential to galvanize the people and call citizens to a greater level of participation for better governance for all. The March’s demand for the quick passage of a strong, fair Freedom of Information Act especially resonated with our group and we threw our weight behind it to drive that cause.
At the March, The Campaign kept a booth in Rawson Square where ORG team members and volunteers explained the FOIA issue to participants and solicited signatures for the Campaign for the Bahamas’ FOIA Petition and the FOIA Advocacy Letter to the MPs. Our dedicated staff and volunteers did an incredible job roaming the crowds with clip boards, gathering nearly 1500 signatures for the cause!
The atmosphere was electric. Marchers and other participants were eager to learn more about FOIA and signs and placards calling for freedom of information abounded. It was impossible not to feel the palpable sense of both frustration, but also determination and hope everywhere. Bahamians were and are ready for a change and the Black Friday March showed that.
The Campaign for The Bahamas team walked away encouraged and motivated. For us and the other groups that have supported the #WeMarch movement, the march is just step one. We have shown our leaders and our fellow citizens and residents our passion and our strength in numbers, now we keep the momentum going to affect sustainable change.
To translate this ground swell of participation into results, each of the involved groups must work together and independently to created initiatives that continue to drive the public to action and pressure leadership to change. Since the march, The Campaign for the Bahamas has stayed busy with initiatives to continue to reach out to the public on the FOIA issue and other issues of good governance.
On December 1st, we assisted The American Embassy and the Student Government Association in organizing a voter registration drive called “Rock the Vote” on the University of the Bahamas campus where we gained another 200 signatures to our petition and registered an estimated 100 new voters. On Thursday December 8, the ORG team participated in march organizer Ranard Henfield’s focus groups, presenting on FOIA and providing educational material. We are looking forward to the programs and initiatives that will come out of those open, inclusive discussions.
Looking forward, Campaign for the Bahamas is excited to continue to engage all of you on FOIA and other important issues. We encourage each person to find their cause and support and participate with all that they have. If you weren’t at the march and would like to sign our FOIA petition and send a letter to your MP visit our website at www.Campaign242.com.
The amount of enthusiasm the Bahamas has shown for affecting change for a new and better country is a hopeful sign. However, we must stay the course if we are to create meaningful change, whether through activism, advocacy, or legislation. Come for the March, Stay for the Movement.