Thesis Semesters of Graduate School
The black tuesday experience
A project focusing on the oral histories of Bahamian people from the event Black Tuesday
This project is a small portion of a larger platform that will be used for the telling of history in small countries, to unearth the undocumented histories and to have them heard. The Black Tuesday Experience is a virtual reality experience set in The Bahamas. The Caribbean is rich and overflowing with history, a lot of which is unknown to the main public.
My project stands to allow the struggle of the Bahamian people to be seen and sympathized with. On the world spectrum the journey to independence in 1973 is usually not mentioned. The importance of knowing the build up of the road to independence shows the strength and the resilience of The Bahamian people. The Bahamas has always been a predominantly black nation, in 1953 the population of black people was 70.3%, meaning that White people were the minority but they possessed the most power. The white people in The Bahamas are products of old wealthy colonial families, the powerful men in these families were known as The Bay Street Boys. A group of men who profited from generational wealth and monopolized the Bahamian people.
This event played an important role in demonstrating to the black Bahamian that Bay Street could be resisted and challenged.The Bahamian political system is separated by the government and the opposition. The governing party at the time was the United Bahamian Party (U.B.P.) and the opposition was the Progressive Liberal Party (P.L.P.). The U.B.P. were gerrymandering boundaries in order to break up P.L.P. strong hold and they were limiting the opposition’s time to speak by only giving them 15 minutes. During one of the two sitting in parliament when they were discussing the commission's report two members of the PLP had to be escorted out by Law Enforcement.
After this first sitting they called a suspension until April 27th, 1965, when they came back to resume the session the P.L.P. came with a plan. A plan to bring a crowd to intimidate the government, a plan to win all of their time extensions on their speeches and a plan to throw the symbol of authority in the house of assembly, the mace, and the hourglass out the window. Everyone inside and outside the house of assembly was in shock, the heavy scepter, flying through the air, all because “the authority on this island belongs to the people" and the people have something for the government to hear. Once the P.L.P. made this grand gesture they went outside and went to be with their people. They were outside recalling what happened in the house until the riot police escorted everyone out of Parliament Square.
This powerful moment in Bahamian history is necessary to understand who Bahamians are.
There are two main aims of my project, immersing viewers into a previously hidden historical narrative and collecting the oral histories of the Bahamian people who lived through this era. The use of oral history within my project The Black Tuesday experience gives the event that I’m framing more layers to interpret when presented next to the base story that we are already introduced to. Using a person’s recollection of an event gives us the opportunity to experience a past life.
I have looked at many projects as precedents but the one that blew me away was Derek Ham’s I am a Man. This project successfully used the empathetic engine of virtual reality, it took you to 1968 during the Memphis Sanitation Worker’s Strike and from this event lead you through the events leading to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The way that Ham uses historical pictures and video anchors his narrative. The immersion of this virtual reality program allows users to forget about the world around them and become one with the narrative. Immersion is an important feature I would like for Historigin to have, it would allow me to bring history alive.
The creation of this virtual reality experience will include 360 footage for the backgrounds, 3D models for the artifacts and historical footage and interviews from archives in The Bahamas. All of these will be overlaid and composited in order to show how even though time has gone by the history made should still be focused on.
My future plans include compressing the experience into an app form in order to have it on a mobile platform. This would make this project more accessible and able to be used by anyone. Another future plan would be to open my project to the mainstream. Opening this to the mainstream would allow me to accomplish one of my goals with this project, going back to phase 1 of my development, and that is to teach the masses. I want everyone to experience this and to not only see and experience the history of Bahamian people but to also know that there are no limits when it comes to being an artist. I want the wide population to know that artists have strong voices and the possibilities of platforms that they create for them to be heard on are endless.