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Gov. King Remembered as 'Humble,' 'Great' at Airport Ceremony

April 7, 2008 — Fond memories of "the people's governor" were shared early Monday morning by members of the territory's Independent Citizens Movement Party, who gathered at the St. Thomas airport to lay a wreath in celebration of the 87th birthday of former Gov. Cyril Emmanuel King.
"I knew Gov. King from the time I was living in New York in the 1950s," said King's longtime friend and security chief, David A. Canton. "He made me the chief of the V.I. Police Department. He said to me, 'Canton, there's more for you in the making.' He did this just before he died."
Other party members recalled how King liked to "walk among the people," often traversing the territory's streets without a bodyguard. He was a "humble man," they said, who took great pride in the Virgin Islands, its history and culture.
Representing the farmer's collective We Grow Food, Ras Nashama I recalled meeting King some years ago and working with him to move St. Thomas' agriculture base from Tutu to Bordeaux.
"I was working for the Department of Agriculture at the time, when everything was being planned in Tutu, and Gov. King came up to us in the hills and sat down with the rastaman and asked us what we wanted," Nashamba said. "We told him, and he helped us bring agriculture to Bordeaux. And it wasn't just talk — Gov. King backed up his words with manpower, tools and money."
The ceremony, though brief, was filled with emotion, and wrapped up with the traditional laying of the wreath next to King's sculpture, erected at the airport to honor and highlight the former governor's contributions. Singing King's praises, the party's oldest member — 96-year-old Blanche Cid — laid the wreath, and wiped tears away from her cheeks as she said, "He was a great man."
King was born in Frederiksted, St. Croix, on April 7, 1921, to Martin and Melvina King. He received his early education at St. Ann's and St. Mary's schools. After high school, King enlisted in the military and then enrolled at American University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a bachelor's degree in public administration.
While in the Army, he attained the rank of sergeant and attended Army leadership school in New Orleans, La.
After military service, King served for 12 years as assistant to Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota. He was the first African-American to serve on the staff of a U.S. senator.
King eventually became Humphrey's senior staff member responsible for research on disarmament for a special Senate subcommittee headed by Humphrey. In 1958 he represented the senator at the Disarmament Conference held by the Post-World War Council.
While employed with Humphrey, King kept close ties with the territory. A strong supporter of youth initiatives, King helped organize the Youth Council on St. Croix.
President John F. Kennedy appointed King to serve as governor secretary of the Virgin Islands, later known as the elective post of lieutenant governor, with then-Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky. He served in that position from 1961 to 1969, when he was appointed acting governor for approximately four months.
In 1969 King announced his candidacy for governor and launched an aggressive campaign against Melvin Evans and Judge Alexander Farrelly. The election ushered in a new era for the territory, as it was the first time citizens of the Virgin Islands were able to vote for their own governor.
During the election, King received 5,422 votes, while Evans and Farrelly received 4,926 and 4,634 votes, respectively. In a subsequent runoff election, Evans emerged as the winner, becoming the first elected governor of the Virgin Islands.
In 1972 King ran for and was elected senator in the St. Thomas-St. John district. He served one term in the V.I. Legislature.
King founded the ICM party in the 1960s before running for governor in 1969.
King ran for governor again in 1974. Three teams of candidates ran in that election, and King, along with running mate Juan Francisco Luis, won the seat in a runoff election, becoming the second elected governor of the territory.
King was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1977. On Monday, Jan. 2, 1978, after a prolonged battle with the illness, he died.
King was married to the late Agnes Agatha Schuster King. The couple had one daughter, Lillia.
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April 7, 2008 -- Fond memories of "the people's governor" were shared early Monday morning by members of the territory's Independent Citizens Movement Party, who gathered at the St. Thomas airport to lay a wreath in celebration of the 87th birthday of former Gov. Cyril Emmanuel King.
"I knew Gov. King from the time I was living in New York in the 1950s," said King's longtime friend and security chief, David A. Canton. "He made me the chief of the V.I. Police Department. He said to me, 'Canton, there's more for you in the making.' He did this just before he died."
Other party members recalled how King liked to "walk among the people," often traversing the territory's streets without a bodyguard. He was a "humble man," they said, who took great pride in the Virgin Islands, its history and culture.
Representing the farmer's collective We Grow Food, Ras Nashama I recalled meeting King some years ago and working with him to move St. Thomas' agriculture base from Tutu to Bordeaux.
"I was working for the Department of Agriculture at the time, when everything was being planned in Tutu, and Gov. King came up to us in the hills and sat down with the rastaman and asked us what we wanted," Nashamba said. "We told him, and he helped us bring agriculture to Bordeaux. And it wasn't just talk -- Gov. King backed up his words with manpower, tools and money."
The ceremony, though brief, was filled with emotion, and wrapped up with the traditional laying of the wreath next to King's sculpture, erected at the airport to honor and highlight the former governor's contributions. Singing King's praises, the party's oldest member -- 96-year-old Blanche Cid -- laid the wreath, and wiped tears away from her cheeks as she said, "He was a great man."
King was born in Frederiksted, St. Croix, on April 7, 1921, to Martin and Melvina King. He received his early education at St. Ann's and St. Mary's schools. After high school, King enlisted in the military and then enrolled at American University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a bachelor's degree in public administration.
While in the Army, he attained the rank of sergeant and attended Army leadership school in New Orleans, La.
After military service, King served for 12 years as assistant to Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota. He was the first African-American to serve on the staff of a U.S. senator.
King eventually became Humphrey's senior staff member responsible for research on disarmament for a special Senate subcommittee headed by Humphrey. In 1958 he represented the senator at the Disarmament Conference held by the Post-World War Council.
While employed with Humphrey, King kept close ties with the territory. A strong supporter of youth initiatives, King helped organize the Youth Council on St. Croix.
President John F. Kennedy appointed King to serve as governor secretary of the Virgin Islands, later known as the elective post of lieutenant governor, with then-Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky. He served in that position from 1961 to 1969, when he was appointed acting governor for approximately four months.
In 1969 King announced his candidacy for governor and launched an aggressive campaign against Melvin Evans and Judge Alexander Farrelly. The election ushered in a new era for the territory, as it was the first time citizens of the Virgin Islands were able to vote for their own governor.
During the election, King received 5,422 votes, while Evans and Farrelly received 4,926 and 4,634 votes, respectively. In a subsequent runoff election, Evans emerged as the winner, becoming the first elected governor of the Virgin Islands.
In 1972 King ran for and was elected senator in the St. Thomas-St. John district. He served one term in the V.I. Legislature.
King founded the ICM party in the 1960s before running for governor in 1969.
King ran for governor again in 1974. Three teams of candidates ran in that election, and King, along with running mate Juan Francisco Luis, won the seat in a runoff election, becoming the second elected governor of the territory.
King was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1977. On Monday, Jan. 2, 1978, after a prolonged battle with the illness, he died.
King was married to the late Agnes Agatha Schuster King. The couple had one daughter, Lillia.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.