(March 20th, 1924 - June 15th, 2000)
Randol Fawkes, elder statesman; attorney-at-law; free trade unionist; civil rights activist; sportsman, author and musician, changed the course of Bahamian destiny forever, almost single-handedly.
He was born in Nassau on March 20th, 1924 and was the second son of Edward R. Fawkes and Mildred Fawkes. He was educated in the public schools in the Bahamas and in the U.S.A. Three months after his graduation from high school in December1942, Sir Randol’s father indentured him to Mr. T. August Toote, a Barrister-at-Law. Afterwards, he was called to the Bahamas’ Bar in April 1948. On June 3rd, 1951, Sir Randol married Jacqueline Rosalie nee Bethel of West End, Grand Bahama. This marriage produced three sons: Francis, Douglas, David and one daughter, Rosalie.
In his struggle for equality for all, this great innovator conceived of many of the social and historical milestones that we as present day Bahamians should not take for granted. As one of the chief architects of majority rule, he was instrumental in bringing into existence the first black government. He is also the recognized father of the Free Trade Union Movement, which is still a formidable force in this country. It is because of Sir Randol Fawkes that a bill was piloted through the House of Assembly thus making Labour Day a paid public holiday.
Because he was a great visionary, many times he anticipated major national developments long before they were recognized or even implemented. For example: the motion for independence; the existence of the Court of Appeal and many other developments are attributable to his farsightedness.
Multi-talented in athletics and the fine arts, he was the President of the Viking Sporting Club. He also showed a flair for music and the visual arts. However, he intuitively recognized God’s purpose of his life. His ministry was to the poor and dispossessed and to this end this supreme liberator fulfilled his mission. In Bermuda, he acted in an advisory capacity in the formation of the Progressive Labour Party thus ending an oppressive era of minority rule. In 1999, he launched the trade union movement in the Cayman Islands. For his work at home, he has been honoured and officially recognized as the father of Human Rights in the Bahamas.
Perhaps, the greatest legacy he left for this generation was his strength of character. Recognized internationally, he was never spoilt by fame. He never became arrogant or unapproachable. Instead his “ mighty meekness” prevailed - and he never lost the common touch. As a highly principled and moral Christian leader, he was tempted by wealth but did not succumb. He was never materialistic, but successfully defended his pension as a matter of principal. His greatest character trait was his willingness to stand up for what he believed in almost life-defying circumstances. This singular quality - which is almost non-existent today - set him apart from most. This seems to be the hallmark of Sir Randol Fawkes one of the greatest foundational leaders of our times.
Here is a Chronology of the Accomplishments of this Bahamian Hero:
1948 - Called to the Bahamas’ Bar
1948 - Spearheaded the movement for the existence of the Court of Appeal
1949 - Joined the Citizens’ Committee
1951 - Married Jacqueline Rosalie nee Bethel of Grand Bahama
1951 - Founder and secretary of the first commercial bank: The People’s
Penny Savings Bank
1952 - One of the founding fathers of the Bahamas Amateur Athletic
1955 - Founder of the Bahamas Federation of Labour
1955 - One of the founding members of the Progressive Liberal Party
1956 - Elected to the House of Assembly for the Southern District
1956 - Spearheaded the movement for associating the Bahamas with the
University of the West Indies
1956 - Served on the house select committee on labour relations and
1958 - Played host to the late Dr. Martin Luther King
1958 - As president of the Bahamas Federation of Labour, he led the General
Strike, resulting in major constitutional and labour Reforms. Later, it
paved the downfall of British colonialism in these islands nine (9)
1958 - On a lecture tour of New York City, he was recognized by the
Caribbean League of America and Abyssinia Baptist Church for
Outstanding contributions to Bahamian life and times
1958 - Honoured in Nassau by the National League of Beauty Culturalist in
1959 - In Bermuda he assisted fellow trade unionists in the formation of the
Progressive Labour Party as a an alternative to minority rule
1961 - Piloted a bill through the House of Assembly thereby
Establishing Labour Day as a paid public holiday
1961 - Responsible for the resolution for the creation of a Labour Exchange
and Old Age Pension Act
1962 - Re-elected to the House of Assembly
1963 - Represented the Labour party at a Constitutional Conference in
1963 - Was one of the first and the strongest proponents for Local
Government in the Bahamas and addressed his concerns at the
Constitutional Conference in London
1966 - As one of the first persons on record to advocate national
Independence, he pleaded its cause before the United Nations.
1967 - As an elected Labour leader, broke the deadlock between the United
Bahamian Party (UBP) and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) by
throwing his vote with the P.L.P.
1967 - Became Minister of Labour and Commerce with Copyright Law in his
portfolio in the P.L.P.-Labour Coalition Government.
1967 - Successfully launched the Industrial Relations Charter for the
Bahamas in Freeport.
1968 - Represented the Labour Party at the 2nd Constitutional Conference in
1970 - He was the architect of the November motion of no confidence in the
P.L.P. government. This resulted in the dissident eight who formed
the basis of the F.N.M. government.
1972 - Listed in Personalities Caribbean - The International Guide to Who’s
Who in the West Indies, Bahamas and Bermuda
1978 - Knight Bachelor conferred by the Queen
1990 - Cited by the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association and the Abaco
and the New Providence Associations as the Father of the Human
Rights Movement in the Bahamas
1993 - Named man of the year by the Cable Beach Kiwanis Club, New
1997 - Reaches an amicable settlement of his pension case in the Court of
Appeal. This resulted in the Parliamentary Pensions Act 1995 for
former parliamentarians and senators; and the Sir Randol Fawkes
Pension Act 1998
1998 - Received the Silver Jubilee Award in recognition for his outstanding
national contribution in the field of Trade Unionism and Labour
1999 - Launched the Trade Union Movement in the Cayman Islands
1999 - Cited as one of the most influential Bahamians of the 20th century in
the Tribune’s souvenir edition at the turn of the Millennium
1999 - Featured as one of the faces of the century in the Guardian’s edition of
Memories - The Turning of a Century
2000 - Was listed in the Wendell K. Jones Publication: The 100 Most
Outstanding Bahamians of the 20th Century
1949 - You should know Your Government
1962 - The Bahamas Government
1966 - The New Bahamas
1979 - The Faith that moved The Mountain (three editions published)
2004 – A Memorial Edition of The Faith that moved the Mountain
2004 - Labour Unite or Perish
Chairman, National Association for the Protection of Human Rights;
Bahamas Trade Union Congress National Executive Board