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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

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.”

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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