From the late 1940s, several leaders within the working class and middle class communities, including Mr. E.C. Loblack and Franklin A Baron among others, had already begun active discussions on how to create more autonomy and political power for the residents of Dominica. The limited legislative system in place by the British system left little representation for the majority of the population who faced the economic and social impacts of taxes and limited support by the Crown. In many ways, Dominica was seen as a neglected territory by the British. As it would seem, Britain grew increasingly supportive of the idea of political independence for Dominica, seeing the island colony as a strain of its resources.
From the achievement of adult suffrage in 1951, to the formation of the Dominica Labour Party and the work of the West Indies Federation, Dominica was well on its way to political advocacy with leaders like Phyllis Shand Allfrey, E.O. Leblanc and others. The 1960s saw Dominica struggle with an internal political and national identity crisis. The failure of the West Indies Federation in 1962 was a blow to the regional spirit. However, in Dominica, Leblanc’s leadership brought with it many social changes including greater access to schools, hospitals and other social services with the expansion of the road networks of the country.
With Leblanc’s resignation from office and his exit from the Dominica Labour Party in the early 1970s and the installation of Patrick John as Premier, Dominica would now face more radical attempts at Independence while facing greater pressures and restrictions upon the people of the country by John’s administration. The Salisbury Declaration and later the achievement of Independence took Dominica into a new era. However, what would come immediately after 1978 would bring many lessons about the importance of a strong cultural identity in bringing about social and political change.
Who we are as a people, our customs, traditions and African and indigenous heritage, must continue to play integral roles in influencing and shaping political discourse for the betterment of the nation.
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