Congresswoman Plaskett, a member of the House Ways and Means, Budget and Agriculture Committees, released the following statement on the passage of H.R.7496, which directs the secretary of the interior to install a plaque at the peak of Ram Head in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park on St. John to commemorate the 1733 slave rebellion:
“I am pleased by House passage of my bill, H.R. 7496, to install a plaque at the Peak of Ram Head on St. John to commemorate the slave rebellion that began in 1733 on St. John. The slave rebellion on St. John was one of the earliest and longest-lasting in the Americas. During the rebellion, numerous rebels – revolutionaries – gave their lives in the vicinity of the peak of Ram Head rather than allowing themselves to be recaptured. This is why the peak of Ram Head trail is an appropriate location to commemorate the island-wide slave rebellion – part of the abolition movement in the Western Hemisphere.
Congressman Reschenthaler (R-PA) shared the following statement: “I was proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Congresswoman Plaskett to install a plaque in honor of the rebellion and the lives that perished on Ram Head Peak, and today, I am honored to join my colleagues to pass this critical recognition of the freedom fighters who revolted against their oppressors and made a vital contribution to the abolitionist movement in the Western Hemisphere. I urge the Senate to act swiftly so we can send this bill to the president’s desk.”
Congresswoman Plaskett further shared, “The bill includes language showing the importance of the plaque to help acknowledge and amplify current work to uncover and disseminate knowledge about our territory’s history. Currently, there is no public acknowledgment of what happened in the 18th century on St. John, and unlike elsewhere on the island, the Ram Head trail contains very little to no signage about the historic significance of the location or the rich history of the people of St. John generally. A plaque at the peak of the trail would appropriately commemorate the rebellion and raise awareness of the significance of the location.
“While the National Park Service would decide on the aesthetic details and location of the plaque, the memorial must contain important facts about the slave rebellion, a mention of the notable collective suicide that occurred in the vicinity of Ram Head, and the overall significance of the island-wide rebellion to the history of St. John, the Virgin Islands, the United States and the African diaspora.
“H.R. 7496 represents a proper and meaningful acknowledgment of the historic and pioneering rebellion against slavery that occurred on St. John 115 years before the abolition of slavery in what is now the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 132 years before the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery everywhere in the United States. I want to thank my colleague, Representative Reschenthaler, and his staff for their support and help during the process.
“Additionally, last year the House passed my bill, H.R. 1424, to designate St. Croix as a National Heritage Area, as part of broader public lands legislation, H.R.803, the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act. It is imperative that we protect and restore our historic sites and buildings, so I and my team remain steadfast in our advocacy throughout the territory.
“Both bills (H.R. 7496 – Ram Head and H.R. 1424 – St. Croix National Heritage Area) must now be taken up and passed by the Senate before they go to the President’s desk for signature into law.”
Editor’s note: Delegate to Congress Stacey E. Plaskett represents the U.S. Virgin Islands in the House of Representatives.