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Moorhead Returning to Denmark in Reparations Effort

Aug. 8, 2005 – New developments in the joint Virgin Islands / Denmark reparations initiative have prompted a return to Denmark by Shelley Moorhead, president African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance.
ACRRA was formed in September 2004, to repair the relationship existing between the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Denmark. According to a press release from ACRRA, the connection suffers wounds today manifesting themselves in lingering and still evolving socioeconomic disabilities imposed by 175 years of the Danish institution of slavery and a concurrent 251 years of colonization. History records that from 1673 to 1803 Denmark transported over 100,000 enslaved African men, women, and children to theDanish West Indies.
In April 2005, Moorhead led a delegation of Virgin Islands leaders to Denmark to discuss reparations. The talks in Denmark have resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between ACRRA and the Danish Institute for Human Rights, and have established a Joint International Virgin Islands / Danish Reparations Task Force co-chaired by both organizations.
Although the task force is scheduled to release its plan of action in October, officials decided that Moorhead's return to Denmark was necessary to nurture the development of a number of initiatives.
The most recent development in the Virgin Islands reparations initiative will result in ACRRA opening dialogue with Danish officials and executives of the East Asiatic Company in order to reexamine the $54 million sale of the West Indian Company (WICO) to the Virgin Islands government. Moorhead strongly believes that had reparations been an official part of the territory’’s political outlook, the Virgin Islands may not have been forced in 1993 to purchase the company, and instead may have leveraged its transfer. Many Virgin Islanders maintain that after 175 years of slavery and economic oppression, the sale of the harbor and surrounding lands by the Danes to their former slaves was unjust. Moorhead met with WICO's chief executive Edward Thomas on Friday and discussed the company’’s history. Moorhead expressed to Thomas that despite the historical role the West Indian Company played in the purchase, sale and transport of many thousands of V.I. ancestors, it was not the intent of ACRRA to hold the modern-day corporation owned by the V.I. government accountable for the pain and suffering inflicted by Danish shareholders.
A significant political development has taken place as well. One of Moorhead's first meetings in Denmark will take place with Ghanaian Ambassador to Denmark, Emmanuel Kwadwo Adu. Last week Moorhead spoke by phone with Ambassador Adu and, according to the press release, in a conversation the ambassador acknowledged Ghana's complicity in the sale of the foreparents of today's Virgin Islands and expressed a sincere desire to make atonement. Moorhead's meeting will center on developing a partnership with Ghana towards reestablishing trilateral relations between the West African country, the Virgin Islands, and Denmark. Although the historical relationship worked to enslave the inhabitants of the Virgin Islands, Moorhead believes that a new 21st relationship may affect repair.
Additionally, Moorhead last week was issued an invitation to return to Denmark by an organization of Danish school teachers participating in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade network of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The group recently joined the reparations task force in Denmark, and has asked ACRRA's president to tour Danish schools and lecture to over 8,000 students and teachers on the subject of the Danish slave trade and the Virgin Islands Reparations Movement. Moorhead's visit is apart of the Aug. 23, international UNESCO day for the commemoration of the abolition of slavery which is celebrated by all Danish schools in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade network. Moorhead has also been asked to assist teachers in developing teaching materials on slavery and sugar production / plantation life. The group visited the Virgin Islands this year in February.
Danish film producer, Anker Li, plans to use the event to continue his work on a television documentary highlighting Denmark's colonial past
In April Li toured Denmark with the Virgin Islands delegation to document reparation talks.
On Friday, the Danish Institute for Human Rights announced the launch of a campaign to encourage Danish youth to sign petitions advocating an official apology to the Virgin Islands for crimes against humanity committed by Denmark in its former Caribbean colony. The institute has planned to commence the campaign during Moorhead's Aug. 23 to 29 tour of the network of Danish schools.
On June 16, operating under the auspices of the institute, organizations participating on Denmark's reparations task force met to draft an agenda for the carrying out of reparations initiatives. While in Denmark, Moorhead is scheduled to review the agenda and meet with the organizations to discuss development of these projects.
When Moorhead departs the territory this week, his travels will also take him to Israel to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. / SCLC –– Ben Ammi Institute for a New Humanity and to Ethiopia for meetings with the African Union for discussions towards establishing a Caribbean Desk for the body here in the Virgin Islands.

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