Honoring William ‘Bill’ Cartwright
We mourn the passing of William “Bill” Cartwright, who though little known by many Bahamians today was a consequential figure in the life of the modern Bahamas. We offer our condolences to his family.
William Cartwright was involved in various aspects of Bahamian life, including as the publisher of a magazine that enjoyed some success. We salute him for his contributions to the print media.
For those who are often tempted to use politicians as scapegoats for our collective national failures, we note that a national hero like Mr. Cartwright was a politician. Those who speak often of honoring our national heroes should remember that many of them made their contributions through politics and government.
Indeed, William Cartwright was a founder of the nation’s first major political party in 1953. Along with the late Cyril Stevenson and the late Sir Henry Taylor, he helped to found the Progressive Liberal Party. He served for a time as a representative in the House of Assembly for Cat Island.
Though his role in the PLP waned, he will go down in Bahamian history as the originator of the idea of party politics. This was a major advancement in our democratic experience.
It was through party politics that majority rule and independence were achieved. It was through party politics that democracy was secured. It was through party politics that we became a vibrant stable democracy.
Some months back, we ran a story on the visit of Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes to Bill Cartwright to celebrate the latter’s birthday. As founders of our modern Bahamas, these men remember well the sacrifices made in the struggle for racial, social and economic justice.
What concerns us is how increasingly fewer people appreciate this history. It is incumbent on the press and others to more fully tell the story of men such as William Cartwright.
It is also incumbent on public officials to ensure greater appreciation for the nation’s founders as well as others who make significant contributions to national life and development.
The naming of public buildings in honor of such individuals is a welcome and important aspect of such appreciation. So, too will be the mounting of permanent and temporary exhibits in the eventual opening of a national museum.
Additionally, it would be good to record through audiovisual media the voices and images of historic figures. Some of this is done through current television programs. But we need a more extensive record by those trained in areas like history and various social sciences.
It is regrettable that individuals like Mr. Cartwright are not more fully recognized during their lifetime. Despite this repeated notion, we too often fail to live up to our words about recognizing and appreciating those who so generously contributed to nation-building.
It is a sign of ingratitude that we have not been as fulsome in our praise and recognition of citizens like William “Bill” Cartwright.
While a state-recognized funeral is welcome for Mr. Cartwright, when will we stop making speeches about honoring such individuals during their lifetime, and actually start doing so more fully.
In this we all share some blame and the responsibility to do better. A man like William “Bill” Cartwright and others deserve much better.
Jun 08, 2012