The United States Virgin Islands recently celebrated a day of historical significance: The 175th anniversary of Emancipation.
One hundred seventy-five years ago, oppressed slaves revolted against slavery in the territory. In the celebrations of Emancipation, there was an emphasis on honoring the brave individuals who fought for freedom and a better future for the islands. The ancestors’ actions are a key foundation to island pride, strength, and courage. They are a large part of the Islands’ history.
The Emancipation was commemorated on July 3 and led to drew enthusiasm from all communities.
Events held in celebration of the 175th anniversary of Emancipation included special church services, a commemoration ceremony, keynote speeches, a luncheon, and fireworks. There were various activities for the whole family, increasing community engagement and education on the islands’ rich history.
Performances from Caribbean Ritual dancers moved the crowd while VI For Life Quadrille Dancers created a festive atmosphere. Performers from the St. John Drama Club inspired audience members by paying tribute to Anna Heegaard with a production that focused on her life and her large impact on the enslaved population of the Danish West Indies. Included in the festivities was the Fort-to-Fort Walk to Freedom. The walk to freedom was inspiring and critical to reflect on the hardships of enslaved ancestors. The event is tradition, and all participants retrace the footsteps of enslaved Africans who marched to demand their freedom. All of the activities incorporated the islands’ rich history with the stories they told the audiences, making it both entertaining and educational.
Last year Governor Albert Bryan Jr. (D) signed an executive order to organize a committee to plan the celebrations. This year’s events inspired attendees, which leaves hope that younger generations will look back on their ancestors with pride, and the strength to stand up for a better future.