It’s Virgin Islands Emancipation Day! If you don’t know what that is, lemme educate you.
On July 3rd, 1848 slaves from St. Croix marched to Fort Frederik and demanded their freedom from bondage. Fearing another rebellion, the then Danish Governor General Peter Von Scholten issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This granted citizenship to all people of African descendants in the Danish West Indies.
Even after liberation, conditions were still bleak for the freed blacks. Women like Mary Thomas, Axeline Elizabeth (Agnes) Salomon and Mathilda McBean organized and led a revolt in 1878 where they burned many estates and sugar mills. Looking back in history, we call them Queens of Fireburn. Really badass if I say so myself.
Today although we are owned by the United States, the liberation exists in our hearts. Each year, we celebrate the day with blowing conch shells, dancing, and historical talks.
Emancipation Day also coincides with the Saint John Carnival, a month long festival with a food fair, cultural dances, parades, pageants, moko jumbies (stilt walkers), steel pan, and a village with attractions.
To all my V.I. family out there, Happy 171st Emancipation Day! I hope you’re looking back on today with as much pride and joy as I am.