EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 522-2022
BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
TO ESTABLISH THE 175th EMANCIPATION COMMEMORATION COMMITTEE
WHEREAS, in 1673, the Danish West India Company was a participant in the transAtlantic slave trade, uprooted enslaved people from their native lands, and forced them to work under inhumane conditions in the Danish West Indies colony (Den Danske Vest India) in what is now known as the U.S. Virgin Islands; and
WHEREAS, the people enslaved in the Caribbean, including in what is now the United States Virgin Islands, organized several large revolts over multiple years, which led the Danish government to propose a gradual end to enslavement in the Danish West Indies; and
WHEREAS, formerly enslaved John Gottlieb, known as "General Buddhoe," along with Martin King, organized a gathering in Frederiksted on the morning of July 3, 1848 and upon the blowing of a conch shell, the enslaved, and formerly-enslaved people of St. Croix took possession of Fort Frederik and demanded that those enslaved be immediately declared free; and
WHEREAS, within hours of the July 3, 1848 revolt and demand for freedom, then Governor Peter von Scholten declared that slavery in the Danish West Indies was officially abolished, thereby emancipating all enslaved people in the Danish West Indies which carried over to the subsequent purchase of the Danish West Indies by the United States of America in 1917; and
WHEREAS, Slavery in the Danish West Indian Islands was officially abolished seventeen years before slavery was abolished in the United States of America; and
WHEREAS, the United States Virgin Islands celebrates Emancipation Day each July 3rd as a commemoration of the abolition of slavery in the Danish West Indies; and
WHEREAS, July 3rd is a recognized Territorial Holiday in the U.S. Virgin Islands pursuant to 1 V .I. Code Section 171; and
WHEREAS, Virgin Islands culture and heritage preservation are critical to its evolution. and it is important to honor and recognize historic contributions of Virgin Islanders; and
WHEREAS, July 3, 2023, will mark 175 years since Emancipation in the former Danish West Indies and is an appropriate time to reflect upon the history and development of the Territory since that time and give respect to our forebears and the brave actions they undertook on that date.
NOW THEREFORE, I, Albert Bryan Jr., Governor of the United States Virgin Islands, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Revised Organic Act of 1954, as amended, do hereby ORDER:
SECTION 1. There is established within the Office of the Governor, the 175111E mancipation Commemoration Committee.
SECTION 2. The purpose of the 175th Emancipation Commemoration Committee ("Committee") is to commemorate the 175th anniversary with programs that inspire Virgin Islanders to renew and strengthen their daring and dynamic experience in democracy. The Committee is charged with continuing to memorialize the lives of the enslaved in the Danish West Indies and the journey of Virgin Islanders after 1848. The committee will promote and educate the VI community on the history of Emancipation and the evolution of labor rights and political rights under the US Flag.
SECTION 3. The 1751h Emancipation Commemoration Committee will meet regularly until at least July 2023 to organize and lead the celebrations of Emancipation Day. The Committee will plan and implement events, programs, and the official commemoration ceremony over the course of the 175111 Anniversary Celebration Year of 2023. This will include activities throughout the schools, storytelling, art competitions, oratorical contests, displays, and tours throughout the islands. The Committee members will act on a voluntary basis; however, the events coordinated by the Committee will be funded through the Office of the Governor.
SECTION 4. The Committee will work collaboratively with the St. Thomas Historical Trust, the St. Croix Landmarks Society, the St. John Historic Society, the Council on the Arts, Crucian Heritage & Nature Tourism ("CHANT"), the Historic Preservation Commission, the Festivals Division of the Department of Tourism, and other organizations that promote and preserve the Virgin Islands' heritage and traditions.
SECTION 5. The Committee will form sub-committees with specific responsibilities to accomplish established goals. Sub-committees will be chaired by committee members and may include non-committee participants.
SECTION 6. Membership of the 175th Emancipation Commemoration Committee shall be comprised in accordance with the following.
(a) The initial members of the 175111 Emancipation Commemoration Committee shall be:
- Honorable Carol M. Burke, Chairwoman
- Teri Helenese
- Honorable Myron Jackson
- Maureen Burke-Ventura
- Khnuma Simmonds
- Jelani Ritter
- Akeem McIntosh
- Honorable Carla Joseph
- Jamila Russell
(b) Additional members may be appointed by the Governor upon his own determination or upon request of the Committee.
(c) Any member may resign upon submission of written notice to the Governor.
(d) The terms of office of members shall commence upon date of appointment by the Governor and continue through December 31, 2023.
(e) The Honorary Members (Posthumous) shall be known as "Keepers of the Flames." These members shall be named by the Committee.
SECTION 7. The Committee shall determine a budget for the planned events and shall present a budget to the Governor for funding, in his discretion. The Committee may engage a paid Executive Director and consultants to assist in preparation and production of events.
SECTION 8. All Departments and Agencies and Instrumentalities of the Government of the Virgin Islands are directed to cooperate fully with the Committee, as need.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto executed this Executive Order by setting my hand and causing the Seal of the Government of the United States Virgin Islands to be affixed at Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, this 1st day of July, A.D., 2022.
Signed July 1, 2022 by Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and attested by Lt. Governor Tregenza A. Roach Esq.
Executive Order Amendment
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 531-2023
BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
TO AMEND EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 522-2022 TO EXTEND THE DURATION OF THE 175th EMANCIPATION COMMEMORATION COMMITTEE AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES
WHEREAS, the Emancipation Commemoration Committee was established by Executive Order 522-2022 to observe the 175th anniversary of Emancipation in the United States Virgin Islands; and
WHEREAS, since its inception, the Emancipation Commemoration Committee has been actively engaged in community activities, pursuant to its mission established by Executive Order 522-2022; and
WHEREAS, the Committee collaborated with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles on the design of the 175th Commemorative License Plates, launched the vi 175.com website, participated in the 2023 Agricultural Fair on the island of St. Croix, named 175 posthumous honorees as "Keepers of the Flames" and celebrated the honorees with an appropriate reception, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the Virgin Islands in March 2023 to foster awareness of Virgin Islands history, culture, and traditions, honored Living Legends of Culture, publicized and honored Virgin Islands Emancipation Day through relationships with the private sector, championed the restoration of Buddhoe Park, and hosted a weekly radio talk show to engage and educate the community on subjects related to the 175th Emancipation; and
WHEREAS, the Committee orchestrated a series of meaningful events in celebration of
the arrival of the 175th anniversary of Emancipation in the United States Virgin Islands. This two day celebration included a commemorative Holy Mass, a Fort to Freedom Walk and Ride, a Cultural Parade, and an impactful Emancipation Ceremony in Buddhoe Park, Frederiksted, St. Croix, which was simulcasted in St. Thomas and St. John. The Emancipation Ceremony was attended by numerous community members, as well as local and national dignitaries and culminated in a firework celebration and Part 1 of the "Unshackled Music Festival"; and
WHEREAS, the Emancipation Commemoration Committee has begun several projects which are still in process. These projects include the enhancement of Emancipation Drive, Emancipation Garden, and Cruz Bay. The Committee will also complete the restoration work at Buddhoe Park, and will continue to partner with the Department of Education, and the University of the Virgin Islands to engage with students and the community. Additionally, the Committee will perform other commemorative events and improvements including erecting a wall in honor of the "Keepers of the Flames" in Christiansted, Cruz Bay, and Charlotte Amalie, and hosting an Emancipation Ball. Accordingly, it is necessary that the duration of the Committee be extended so that the Committee may fulfill its purpose.
NOW THEREFORE, Albert Bryan Jr., Governor of the United States Virgin Islands, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Revised Organic Act of 1954, as amended, do hereby ORDER:
SECTION 1. EXECUTIVE ORDER 522-2022 issued on July 1, 2022, is amended as follows:
C. In Section 6 subsection (a) by adding the following individual as a member of the 175th Emancipation Commemoration Committee:
D. In Section 6 by replacing subsections (c) and (d) as follows:
(c) Any member may resign upon submission of written notice to the Governor, or the Governor in his discretion may relieve any member from the Committee.
(d) The terms of office of members shall commence upon date of appointment by the Governor and continue through July 3/, 2024.
E. In Section 6 by adding a subsection (f) as follows:
(f) The following individuals shall serve as non-voting advisors to the Committee:
Dr. Shirley Highfield
SECTION 2. All other provisions of Executive Order No. 522-2022 remain in effect.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto executed this Executive Order by setting my hand and causing the Seal of the Government of the United States Virgin Islands to be affixed at Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, this 13th day of September, A.D., 2023.
Signed September 13, 2023 by Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and attested by Lt. Governor Tregenza A. Roach Esq.