“Take Me Somewhere Tranquil” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy in the Bahamas

Featured image from US Embassy – Bahamas.

The Bahamas, especially Bimini, was a special place to the great Civil Rights Movement leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who we remember as a nation today. His favorite island was surely Bimini, where he spent two extended stays while penning a pair of his speeches, preferring the quiet solitude of the islands to clear his thoughts. The first visit was in 1964 while Dr. King was working on his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, and the second in 1968 to work on his final speech “I Have Been to the Mountaintop.” Both times he asked a local Bimini guide, Ansil Saunders to take him onto the flats in search of “somewhere tranquil.”

MLK’s influence is impossible to overstate. It moves well beyond our own country’s civil rights movement into global change.

In Bimini, an island in the Bahamas, MLK found a friend in Ansil Saunders. Ansil is a bonefish guide and community leader who speaks of MLK as a friend as genuine to your face as he was to millions on a stage. Dr. King enjoyed the solitude of Bimini to write and think. Four days before his assassination, they sat in Ansil’s boat, sharing psalms while Dr. King worked on his final speech – “I’ve been the to the mountain top.” MLK had a great influence on Ansil and the community of Bimini, inspiring freedom in the Bahamas from colonial rule and for equality.

Here are a few interesting things about Dr. King’s time on Bimini:

#1 – MLK author his famous “I Have Been to the Mountain Top” speech deep in the mangroves surrounded by bonefish.

Ansil Saunders with the 16-lb bonefish that still holds the All-Tackle World Record to this day.

#2 – MLK’s close friend on the island, legendary guide Ansil Saunders, set the current All-Tackle Bonefish World Record in the same waters he shared with MLK. 

#3 – MLK’s Preferred Meal on Bimini was Conch Fritters and Ginger Ale, a meal he ate daily. 

The MLK Bust at the Healing Hole, Bimini. Photo: Ansil Saunders

#4 – There are two busts of MLK Jr. on the island of Bimini

There are 2 busts of Martin Luther King Jr. on Bimini, one located at the Bimini Craft Centre in Alice Town, and the other at The Healing Hole, a remote hole deep in the mangroves of North Bimini accessible only by boat.

“They call this Bonefish Hole, but I call this Dr. King’s Creek of Peace because this is where I brought Martin Luther King.” – Ansil Saunders

The best way to see it is to hire Mr. Ansil Saunders himself to take you there on a tour.

This post was inspired by our friends at Poncho Outdoors who previously shared these points in an email on Jan. 18, 2021

If you’d like to read more about Dr. King’s time in the Bahamas and his impact on the islands, check out these articles:

Civil Rights and Bonefishing in Bimini by Brian Irwin for Patagonia.

Following Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Bimini from The Caribbean Journal

Ansil Saunders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., God, and Bonefish from The Adventures of Aleta

Ansil Saunders in his workshop. Photo: Matt Jones Photography.

This year, there is a deeper appreciation as we celebrate a man with such a ripple effect on historical change and modern progress. The film “Mighty Waters” by @ColdCollaborative will premiere in the @flyfishingfilmtour this spring, focusing on Ansil Saunders, the flats of Bimini, and the impact Dr. King had on the island community.

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