I wish we were back in St. Croix today to celebrate. We heard about this day of celebration when we visited a local Jr. High School.
Article Excerpt by Bill Kossler
July 3 is Emancipation Day in the Virgin Islands, marking the day in 1848 when St. Croix's African population rose up to break the bonds and shackles of chattel slavery some 19 years before Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in the United States. St. Croix will be hosting a series of celebrations, conversations and commemorations leading up to the day, with Fourth of July celebrations the next day. Mickens Family in the heart of Fredericksted June 2009
The celebration is organized every year by the History, Culture and Tradition Foundation, led by Mary L. Moorhead of Frederiksted.
Emancipation was brought about by the St. Croix slave rebellion of 1848. That revolt was lead by Moses "Gen. Buddhoe" Gottlieb, an enslaved African and master sugar boiler who could travel from plantation to plantation.
Buddhoe could read and write and was knowledgeable in world affairs. That same year revolutions swept across much of Europe, and Buddhoe may have considered himself a part of that widespread movement.
Prompted by the takeover of Fort Frederik, the military stronghold in St. Croix, and threats by the enslaved Africans to "burn down the town of Frederiksted," Gov. General Peter Von Scholten reluctantly made the proclamation "from this day onward all unfree in the Danish West Indies are free."
Mickens Family in the heart of Fredericksted June 2009
The events of July 3, 1848, ushered in a new era between the black working class and the Danish crown. The proclamation freed not only the blacks in Frederiksted, which was the capital of the Danish West Indies, but also the nearly 3,000 enslaved Africans throughout the entire Danish West Indies, including St. Thomas and St. John. Though slavery was abolished, the movements of workers remained tightly controlled, leading to the Fireburn revolt thirty years later, in 1878.
To mark Emancipation Day, every year there is a donkey race, a fun pastime on St. Croix that goes way back into colonial times.
"Everyone loves the donkey race," Moorhead said Wednesday. "It's funny, and like a big country picnic. You can't help but be happy and smiling at a donkey race."
There is also a long walk from Christiansted to Frederiksted.
"It's a very spiritual event," Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson said Thursday, encouraging everyone to join in. "We go slow and if you get tired, you can hop on the bus following the walk and ride."