The Best of St. Croix
Emancipation Day 2008
Emancipation Day in the Virgin Islands marks the day that the enslaved
African population was freed by Governor Peter Von Scholten on July 3, 1848,
several years before emancipation was declared in the United States. This
emancipation was due, in part, to the movement run by General Buddhoe, a
slave who organized the other slaves to press for freedom. Today,
Emancipation Day reminds all of what has happened and what, to some extent,
is still happening - this time not physically but mentally and economically.
To begin the day an Emancipation Walk was organized from Fort
Christiansvaern in Christiansted to Fort Frederik in Frederiksted. Since
all Danish kings were either named Christian or Frederik, many towns
and official buildings in the colonies were also thusly named.
Walkers were up early to walk along Queen Mary Highway - sans sidewalks
however, this did not squelch their determination.
Some walked alone, some in pairs others in groups.
Some even danced...
...to the music coming from the truck which accompanied the walkers.
At walk's end there was the continuation of the Emancipation celebrations.
Junie Bomba and Pam Richards opened the ceremonies with the blowing of
the conch shells - a universal call to assemble.
Then, Myron Jackson and family said the African prayers and poured the
libation to the ancestors.
The conch shells were blown again, and all are assembled.
Next there is singing and dancing from El Grupo Majestad, a performing
group of African decendants from Puerto Rico.
Pam Richards then introduced the next speaker, Mario Moorhead, historian.
Mr. Moorhead, his long dreadlocks trailing behind him, detailed the rigors and
challenges of slavery and what that meant to a person enslaved. He narrated
the cause of the push for freedom and its outcome's meaning in our world today.
When Mr. Moorhead had finished, he introduced the next speaker, Dr.
Louis Farrakhan, Minister of the Nation of Islam.
Minister Farrakhan, whose own roots are in the Caribbean, first gave a few
reminiscences about his life as a child in the Caribbean.
He followed this introduction with a lesson about birth and rebirth. He
also spoke about the miseducation and misdirection of Black
Americans and what it has lead to. He made a pledge of support by
stating that he would return to theisland to help minister, along with the
ministers of various denominations, the males of the community so that
the society could be turned around.
After his rousing speech, Minister Farrakhan was joined onstage by
various members of his entourage including his wife and daugther
and the son of Minister Elijah Muhammad.
Pam Richards thanked the Minister for coming to the Emancipation
celebration and assisting YTT with the funding for getting his group here.
The ceremony was closed with Minister Farrakhan, himself,
blowing the conch shell and the presentation of gifts.
Later that evening, to round out the event, a Quadrille Dance was held
in the Customs House Square with Curtis Williams calling the steps.