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Bull And Bread Day Canceled For The First Time In 30 Years … Event Celebrating The Life Of D. Hamilton Jackson Hopes To Come Back Next Year

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FREDERIKSTED — For the first time at least 30 years, Bull and Bread Day has been canceled.

The annual Liberty Day celebration and feast in Grove Place that celebrates the life and legacy of D. Hamilton Jackson will have to go on next year thanks to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The event was canceled due to the impact of hurricanes on St. Croix, Williams said.

“Due to severe damage to the facility used for serving the ‘bull and bread,’ the unavailability of individuals who provide assistance in pulling this monumental occasion together, funding and for other reasons, a determination was made to cancel this year’s celebratory activities,” said Raymond Williams, chair of the Grove Place Action Committee.

Gov. Kenneth Mapp said that he was celebrating “the legacy of Virgin Islands icon, David Hamilton Jackson” today.

“As we remember the life and times of this outstanding Virgin Islander we give thanks for his tireless efforts to advance self-determination and human rights throughout the Danish West Indies and later the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Mapp said. “His efforts to ensure that residents of the territory were granted American citizenship and all the rights and privileges thereof are particularly notable as we count on the assistance of the federal government to aid in our recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Normally, all schools and Government offices are closed November 1 in honor of Jackson, the governor said.

“However, school days lost to the recent hurricanes necessitate students remaining in class this year,” he said.

Other government offices will be closed today.

Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett also weighed in on today’s holiday.

“As I travel back to Washington D.C., I reflect on the life and legacy of one of our founding fathers, David Hamilton Jackson, Plaskett said. “And I am reminded of his travels to the Nation’s Capitol to petition the Congress for full citizenship rights for Virgin Islanders following the Transfer of 1917.”

Besides advocating that the Virgin Islands be fully assimilated into the United States, the congresswoman also wanted people here to know that Jackson was a self-made man.

“A son of the soil, David Hamilton Jackson’s ideas and advocacy are responsible for much of the socio-economic and political progression of the Virgin Islands through the 20th Century,” she said. “Today, as we to continue working toward building a better and more resilient Virgin Islands post hurricanes Irma and Maria, we have a duty and a responsibility to continue to grow upon those hard-fought advancements.”

At the time of Jackson’s birth in St. Croix in 1884, the territory was ruled by Denmark. Jackson was an important figure in the struggle for increased civil liberties and workers’ rights in the islands.

He fought for freedom of the press, traveling to Denmark to successfully petition for the repeal of a 1779 law that prohibited independent newspapers and enforced strict censorship on all publications in the territory.

Upon returning home, he established the first free newspaper, The Herald. With the help of Ralph Bough, Jackson organized the first labor union in the Danish West Indies in 1913.

He favored the transfer of the islands from Danish to American control, and after the sale of the territory to the United States in 1917, he lobbied for full U.S. citizenship for residents.

 

 

 

The Grove Place Action Committee organizes the park ceremony every year, putting together a series of speakers, arranging for music and special presentations, and cooking up a giant feast of beef and bread. Every Nov. 1 since 1915 there has been a celebration near the Grove Place Baobab – across the street from Grove Place’s D. Hamilton Jackson Park – commemorating the organized labor movement on St. Croix.

Senate President Myron D. Jackson encouraged the community to reflect on Jackson’s contributions throughout November by browsing through an online collection of more than 3,000 pages dedicated to his life and legacy.

It can be found at the Digital Library of the Caribbean. People can read for themselves past editions of the Herald, which promised to reform through education the wrongs experienced by the masses. The newspaper boldly took the planter class, police, and military to task, stating that “our aim shall be…to see that justice is administered with equality.”

“I am pleased to see the resources now available readily to the public for us to enrich our understanding of this great Virgin Islands hero in our history,” Senator Jackson said.

The collection includes copies of his newspaper, The Herald, links to his ancestry, and other related materials, as a result of the passage of Act No. 7771, or Bill No. 31-0230, sponsored by Senator Jackson.

That legislation – Act 7771 – allowed for the digitization of the newspaper and other significant documents and made the month of November “David Hamilton Jackson Month.” It was a follow-up to Act. No. 4579, passed in 1981 by the 14th Legislature, proclaiming “David Hamilton Jackson Day,” also known as “Liberty Day.”

Senator Janette Millin Young said the memory of Jackson lives on in our hearts:

“On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, we honor David Hamilton Jackson whose contributions to our society began in the last decade of the Danish Colonial Era and continued into the first four decades of the U.S. Territorial Period. In 1915, Jackson was the pioneering giant who advocated for better living conditions, modern health care, living wages, land ownership, freedom of the press, universal suffrage, and a fair judicial system. He organized the first modern labor union (the St. Croix Labor Union) and founded the first truly free newspaper (the Herald). Jackson was called the “Black Moses” by his admirers for his steadfast leadership in the development of our people and the eradication of the socio-economic shackles that had persisted even after slavery was abolished. During his four decades of service to our people, Jackson served as a teacher, labor organizer, newspaper editor, Colonial Council Member, and Chair (President), and Judge.  “
 
“On Wednesday, we celebrate the right to free press during the last years of Danish colonial rule. Our quest for accurate information and modern communication took root in our contemporary period. We expect excellence in public communication, and news today, as we seek to reconstruct the U. S. Virgin Islands after two devastating hurricanes, we must remember his example.  Jackson went to Denmark as a spokesman for all Virgin Islanders, especially the workers. He spoke to the Danes at rallies, public gatherings, and meetings. He met King Christian X to convince him and his cabinet of the various needs of the Danish West Indies. He spoke to the major political parties who were interested.  Although his major achievement was the new freedom of the press, Jackson set the stage for the Virgin Islands’ development.  It was in the U.S. territorial period that every demand Jackson made of the Danish leadership was actually achieved.”
 
“Fellow Virgin Islanders, I am inspired by David Hamilton Jackson this Liberty Day and I will practice what Jackson demonstrated by continuing to represent all Virgin Islanders.  I will remain steadfast in addressing all the needs of our people and if it means traveling to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress, I will do so.  With all other leaders of the U. S. Virgin Islands, I commit myself to travel wherever it is necessary to promote our just interests. Do enjoy this important holiday with family, friends, and loved ones.”

CLOSED FOR REMODELING: The D. Hamilton Jackson Center in Estate Grove Place.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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