NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie has thrown his support behind erecting a Bust of the late American civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr., on the island of Bimini, the place where he found solace and inspiration for his noted speeches.“Dr King’s feeling was that only God could have created this spot with its pristine environment. It is critical to the building up of our country,” the Prime Minister said.Plans were announced during a press conference in the House of Assembly Committee Room on Wednesday, August 8, 2012. Present were members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Bimini Memorial Plaque committee.
Activities surrounding the unveiling ceremony are scheduled for October 5-7, 2012; the plaque will be placed in the mangroves where Dr King is said to have spent peaceful moments with boat maker and bone fisherman Captain Ansil Sanders in 1964 and 1968. The bust, in the image of Dr King will be designed a sculpted by renowned sculptor Erik Blome.
The activities will also incorporate the launching of a scholarship award programme for deserving Bahamian students to attend the historic Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida.
The project is being touted as an effort to bring attention and awareness to the connection Dr King had with The Bahamas, particularly Bimini. The Martin Luther King Jr. Bimini Memorial Plaque committee plans to unveil a bust at the site in the mangroves in BiminiThe Prime Minister thanked the committee for their efforts, particularly the scholarship programme, which would serve to give young people a second chance at furthering their education.
He said after being expelled from school at a young age, he was given a second chance to further his education with a support system in place.
The Prime Minister also mentioned the “incredible journey” of committee member Nathaniel Glover Jr., a man once involved in crime, who became a sheriff and now President of Edward Waters College, his alma mater.
“That empowered me to recognise how relationships are so important,” the Prime Minister said.
He noted that the event is happening when The Bahamas is in its 40th year of Independence. Hence, he has appointed a steering committee co-chaired by cultural activists Charles Carter and Dr Nicolette Bethel.
“I expect that we will use the occasion to immortalise the contributions made by Bahamians as we are ushering in a new period in Bimini. It will be a significant leap forward in its development,” the Prime Minister said.
He said it should also be remembered that Dr King’s work paralleled that of former Prime Minister the late Sir Lynden Pindling, during the 1960s, “the golden age of idealism and opportunity.”
The Prime Minister said he hoped the project would bring more investors on board to assist in the further development of the island known for its big game fishing events.
Bimini, about 40 miles east of Miami, Florida, was also a retreat for noted American author and journalist Ernest Hemingway, and American Politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
Dr King wrote his part of his acceptance speech he delivered while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and the one he delivered to the sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee before he was assassinated in 1968. Members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Bimini Plaque Project Committee, present at the press conference are: Joyce Danford, Executive Director, MLK Jr. Bimini, Bahamas Plaque Project; Esmin Shakespeare Master, Edward Waters College Scholarship Coordinator (who has Bahamian roots); US Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Co-chair, MLK Jr. Bimini, Bahamas Plaque Project; and Nat Glover.