Jan. 25, 2004 — Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist William Raspberry visited St. Croix along with the members of the National Bar Association's Judicial Council and Board of Governors as they convened their midwinter meeting.
Raspberry, a Washington Post columnist since 1966, won the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary in 1994. His columns reflect his points of view and strong opinions about the problems in American society.
On Saturday Raspberry was relaxing at a beach barbecue hosted by local attorney Jeffery B.C. Moorhead at Hotel on the Cay. The event was one of a series of seminars and activities that brought hundreds of judges and lawyers from all across the United States to the island. Judge Earnestine Dorse of Memphis, Tenn., chair of the Judicial Committee, said the group chose the venue for its meeting to help "make a difference in the reputation, image and economy of St. Croix."
Raspberry had his own views on the state of affairs of St. Croix. He spoke of his impressions of the island, its identity, economy, crime and potential. He noted that it was not his first time on St. Croix.
"I was here on a day trip from St. Thomas several years ago," he said. "Back then, I saw the struggle of St. Croix; it was in a transition … a dying agricultural economy moving toward an industry, tourism-based economy which had not yet taken hold. As a tourist today, I like St. Croix better than I thought I would. It has been a wonderful experience — the beauty is obvious. The people, the Crucians, treat you well."
Asked about the niche marketing of St. Croix for conventions, Raspberry offered these thoughts: "You have excellent facilities here. But to staff them for intermittent events, well, one week you need [to employ] a lot of people and the next week you don't. But your prospects here are very good. You have sun, sand and sea, but so do other islands. However, it's the welcoming quality of the people that is the deciding factor."
Raspberry went on to talk about crime on the island: "One hears of crime, but we have not experienced it. I am from D.C., and there is a lot of crime there. St. Croix needs to work on transitioning high school graduates into the work force; the children need something to do, especially the boys."
As far as the future of the island and its importance to the economy of the Virgin Islands, he said: "St. Croix is in a good position to grow. The first thing [people] do is compare St. Croix to St. Thomas, and the focus is on the differences. But the focus should be on what is, rather than what is not. St. Thomas is compact; all that needs to be there is already there. St. Croix is all open spaces. St. Thomas represents what has already happened; on St. Croix you see what can happen."
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