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HomeNewsArchivesGov. John deJongh Jr.’s Emancipation Day Message

Gov. John deJongh Jr.’s Emancipation Day Message

July 3, 2008 — On July 3rd, we celebrate a momentous event in our history: The 160th anniversary of the emancipation of the slaves in the Danish West Indies. Our emancipation — a day we must remember and celebrate.
Let me begin by acknowledging the hard work of the various associations that over the years have organized events to mark the significance of Emancipation Day. On St. Croix there is Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Inc., The United Caribbean Association, Per Ankh, and Our Town Fredriksted. On St. John: The St. John 1733 African Revolution Celebration Committee; and on St. Thomas: The Pan-African support group. I congratulate all of you for the important work you do.
On this the 160th anniversary, Lieutenant Governor Gregory Francis and I are pleased to announce a new emancipation activity. It is a summer creative arts project for our students. Those students who participate will write a song or a poem over the summer with emancipation as its theme. In the new school year, the best 10 to 15 of these works will be compiled on a CD that will be widely distributed. I'm pleased to say that the local media company Island Sound Works has already agreed to produce this CD. Glen "Kwabena" Davis, through the Department of Education, is spearheading this important project. I urge the active participation, not just of our students, but of the adults, of all in the community.
On Emancipation Day, we honor our ancestors for their fortitude, their forbearance and their indomitable spirits. We honor their struggle and determination not just to survive, but to build a better world for future generations. Their dreams remain our challenges today. I believe that an essential attribute for success in meeting these challenges is the willingness to fully engage — to be involved in the making of our society. This can never be a half-hearted effort limited by self-defeating attitudes; we must take on the struggle begun by our ancestors to make a better world with determination.
Nationally, we have seen how a message of hope — a call to engage — has brought so many new and young people into the process. Regardless of one's politics, all can agree that this is a good change. It is good for America. It is good for the Virgin Islands, because far too often we have seen the triumph of evil over good. Some have become cynical and hopeless. Too many have turned to drugs and crime. Too many have abandoned the dreams of our parents for a better life through diligent work.
I want my message to also be a message of hope. I believe a spirit of hope can infuse the Virgin Islands with a new and positive energy, rekindling hope, rekindling faith, building anew the understanding that by working together, we can and will build the better Virgin Islands our ancestors could only dream about.
In moving forward, there are at least two choices we can offer our young people. One is to point to our bloody, bitter history, drenched as it is in injustice and exploitation, and encourage them to behave like victims. The other is to point to our bloody, bitter history, drenched as it is in injustice and exploitation, as evidence of the strength of our triumphant spirit and how far it has already brought us. We must choose not to be victims. We must choose not to be defined by our complaints. We must choose to embrace the fact that we do not live in a static world or a static America or a static Virgin Islands. We live in a dynamic, changing world, full of opportunity where blacks and whites, Africans and Europeans, Jews and Gentiles and everyone else can jointly pursue the common goal of a more just and equitable world. This goal is the star we steer towards, a star made brighter by our reflections on the significance of emancipation.
May God bless America and God bless the Virgin Islands.

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July 3, 2008 -- On July 3rd, we celebrate a momentous event in our history: The 160th anniversary of the emancipation of the slaves in the Danish West Indies. Our emancipation -- a day we must remember and celebrate.
Let me begin by acknowledging the hard work of the various associations that over the years have organized events to mark the significance of Emancipation Day. On St. Croix there is Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Inc., The United Caribbean Association, Per Ankh, and Our Town Fredriksted. On St. John: The St. John 1733 African Revolution Celebration Committee; and on St. Thomas: The Pan-African support group. I congratulate all of you for the important work you do.
On this the 160th anniversary, Lieutenant Governor Gregory Francis and I are pleased to announce a new emancipation activity. It is a summer creative arts project for our students. Those students who participate will write a song or a poem over the summer with emancipation as its theme. In the new school year, the best 10 to 15 of these works will be compiled on a CD that will be widely distributed. I'm pleased to say that the local media company Island Sound Works has already agreed to produce this CD. Glen "Kwabena" Davis, through the Department of Education, is spearheading this important project. I urge the active participation, not just of our students, but of the adults, of all in the community.
On Emancipation Day, we honor our ancestors for their fortitude, their forbearance and their indomitable spirits. We honor their struggle and determination not just to survive, but to build a better world for future generations. Their dreams remain our challenges today. I believe that an essential attribute for success in meeting these challenges is the willingness to fully engage -- to be involved in the making of our society. This can never be a half-hearted effort limited by self-defeating attitudes; we must take on the struggle begun by our ancestors to make a better world with determination.
Nationally, we have seen how a message of hope -- a call to engage -- has brought so many new and young people into the process. Regardless of one's politics, all can agree that this is a good change. It is good for America. It is good for the Virgin Islands, because far too often we have seen the triumph of evil over good. Some have become cynical and hopeless. Too many have turned to drugs and crime. Too many have abandoned the dreams of our parents for a better life through diligent work.
I want my message to also be a message of hope. I believe a spirit of hope can infuse the Virgin Islands with a new and positive energy, rekindling hope, rekindling faith, building anew the understanding that by working together, we can and will build the better Virgin Islands our ancestors could only dream about.
In moving forward, there are at least two choices we can offer our young people. One is to point to our bloody, bitter history, drenched as it is in injustice and exploitation, and encourage them to behave like victims. The other is to point to our bloody, bitter history, drenched as it is in injustice and exploitation, as evidence of the strength of our triumphant spirit and how far it has already brought us. We must choose not to be victims. We must choose not to be defined by our complaints. We must choose to embrace the fact that we do not live in a static world or a static America or a static Virgin Islands. We live in a dynamic, changing world, full of opportunity where blacks and whites, Africans and Europeans, Jews and Gentiles and everyone else can jointly pursue the common goal of a more just and equitable world. This goal is the star we steer towards, a star made brighter by our reflections on the significance of emancipation.
May God bless America and God bless the Virgin Islands.