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Wednesday, June 12, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesCrucians March in Honor of King's Legacy, Offer Prayers for Haitians

Crucians March in Honor of King's Legacy, Offer Prayers for Haitians

    Evelyn Williams students march in the 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade on St. Croix.The tragedy in Haiti was on many minds Monday as hundreds on St. Croix marched in celebration of brotherhood, peace and diversity in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.
The St. Croix Educational Complex ROTC Color Guard began the progression, which grew to a throng several hundred yards long. Police cars with blue flashing lights led the way as contingents from local schools, community organizations, clubs, unions and private citizens strolled down Queen Mary Highway past Sunny Isle and up Claude A. Benjamin Drive to Island Center. In your chest you could feel the drums of the St. Croix Educational Complex and Central High School marching bands.
This is the 17th year in a row the St. Croix Central Labor Council (CLC) has organized the march, starting from Plaza Shopping Center and ending with a rally at Island Center for the Performing Arts. Every year the CLC chooses a new theme for the commemoration. This year’s was "Walking together to mend our history."
The American Federation of Teachers and other unions were well represented among the marchers. Some marched behind a union banner, while others held signs with messages.
The Pearl. B. Larsen, Alfredo Andrews, Eulalie Rivera and Evelyn Williams elementary schools, St. Mary’s School and Good Hope Academy were among the schools marching with students in commemorative T-shirts, holding signs and pictures.
"We are here to support Martin Luther King Jr. for his bravery defending the rights of black people through nonviolence," said Shakeem Alcindor, a fifth-grader at Eulalie Rivera, who held a sign with King’s photo.
Fraternities and sororities, like Alpha Phi Alpha and Zeta Phi Beta, were out in force, too, marching behind their chapter banners. After the parade and ceremony, sorority members from Alpha Kappa Alpha went to Flamboyant Gardens for a lunch and talk with seniors there.
As the marchers arrived at Island Center, they filled up the bleachers for a program of prayers, songs, school skits and dance performances interspersed with reflections from labor leaders and government dignitaries upon the King legacy and its meaning in the territory.
The spirited crowd sat in clusters of matching school, club and group T-shirts making a colorful patchwork among the theater rows.
After the national anthem and "V.I. March," Christine Farrelly sang such a rousing rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" that Benson Ward Jr., one of the event’s moderators, abruptly shouted out "Yea, Christine!" from the side of the stage.
Pastor Samuel Bronigan of Way of the Cross Baptist Church led an opening prayer, after which he asked for a moment of silence for the people of Haiti, suffering after the recent massive earthquake there.
In the keynote address, UVI political science professor Malik Sekou urged listeners not only to read King’s speeches and writings, but also to follow King’s example.
"He wasn’t a college professor like myself; he was a massive activist," Sekou said, before reading from King’s famous "Paul’s Letter to American Christians," a missive which imagines the Apostle Paul speaking to 20th-century Christians. Sekou concluded that the struggle for dignity and respect had taken a new turn in today’s world, one not necessarily against discrimination but "against the social marginalization of our youth."
Delegate Donna Christensen and Gov. John deJongh Jr. each took turns at the microphone to reflect on King’s. DeJongh quoted Robert Kennedy, saying one day a person of color would be president, noting now it has come to pass with President Barack Obama.
With the Haiti tragedy on the forefront of everyone’s mind, deJongh added that he expects the V.I. National Guard may get a call any day now from the president to come help in Haiti.
Christensen tied Martin Luther King Jr. to the ongoing mission of the Congressional Black Caucus and related King’s call to service to the crisis in Haiti. A ship from Hovensa is on its way, and a flight will be taking off from St. Thomas with supplies, she said.
In the past year, Haiti had finally begun to get the help it needed from Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she said. Now, with this calamity, the United States and the United Nations will be stepping in, with help and leadership from Clinton, she said.
"But it is not the work of Hillary Clinton that gives us hope today. It is the indomitable resilience of the Haitian people," she said.
At the close of ceremonies, several pastors stood up in turn and offered prayers for Haiti’s children, its dead, its survivors and those possibly leaving to aid in the relief effort.

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