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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsCommittee Members Laud Legislation Honoring Former Senators

Committee Members Laud Legislation Honoring Former Senators

Former Sen. James O’Bryan Jr. testified in favor of honoring both former senators. (Photos by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)

In its effort to honor former Senators George Goodwin and Horace Callwood, the Committee on Government Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Protection Tuesday presented a historical snapshot of the Virgin Islands’ political foundations.

Callwood was elected to the first 15-senator Legislature in 1966. Goodwin managed Alexander Farrelly’s first gubernatorial campaign and negotiated the purchase of the West Indian Company. Farrelly was the territory’s fourth elected governor.

The act, voted on favorably and sent to the Rules and Judiciary Committee concerning Goodwin, proposes to name the Estate Nazareth cricket field on St. Thomas in his honor, and to award him the V.I. Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is the highest award the Senate can grant. Goodwin is still alive but in a home in Jacksonville.

The measure concerning Callwood would rename the street running alongside Windward Passage Hotel in Charlotte Amalie in his honor. For decades the Horace A. Callwood Democratic Breakfast Club met every Tuesday at Winward Passage. The club quit meeting during the pandemic. Callwood passed away in 2020.

Former Sen. James O’Bryan Jr. testified that “Horace Callwood brought grace, class, civility, wise counsel, integrity, dedication, patience, and commitment to the Virgin Islands in general and the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands in particular. He mentored many up-and-coming political leaders, some sitting in this chamber listening to me today. He was always willing to give useful and pertinent advice and was always there generously giving. We are better people because of it.”

Senators presented a united front in favoring both measures as 12 senators, an uncommonly high number, showed up for the committee hearing.

Maybe the interest of the senators was the result of a particular trait of Goodwin’s highlighted by Donna Christensen, former V.I. Delegate to Congress. She said, “You could not be around George and not be drawn into the politics of the day.”

She also introduced the topic that would be a focus of the praise showered on Goodwin. “There was perhaps no greater advocate for the alleviation of the plight of immigrants who were under the bonded system here in the Virgin Islands. George was determined and untiring in working with then Delegate Ron DeLugo to secure the passage of the V.I. Non-Immigrant Alien Adjustment Act of 1981,” she said.

Goodwin’s son Gregory, in his testimony, laid out his father’s history which was entwined with the territory.

Elder Goodwin, according to his son, was a founding member of the Alien Interest Movement, the primary advocacy organization for thousands of persons seeking to legally migrate to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

His son also testified that his father “personally prepared the documentation necessary to formally complete the process for many becoming either a permanent resident or U.S. citizen. Goodwin was concerned by the harsh treatment of thousands of migrants and became an expert in federal immigration laws rules and procedures.”

Senators and testifiers also credited George Goodwin with fighting for the right of all children, whether they were born in the Virgin Islands or not, to attend a public school. He sued the V.I. government on behalf of AIM and won that fight.

Goodwin was elected to the V.I. Senate for the 20th and 23rd Legislatures.

Doyle Jones, president of the St. Thomas Cricket Association, testified about Goodwin’s dedication to cricket. He said Goodwin “organized the travel of numerous teams from the Eastern Caribbean and retired international cricketers to St. Thomas to play. He contributed to the development of our players by organizing clinics and training sessions to advance players’ techniques. In 1985, he led the Virgin Islands delegation to Antigua, where he advocated and convinced the Leeward Islands Cricket Board that the Virgin Islands should be recognized as a full member.”

Goodwin had served as the president and secretary of the St. Thomas Cricket Association and as president of the Combined Virgin Islands Cricket Association.

Eduardo Carneiro, the current chair of the Horace Callwood Breakfast Club, testified, “Horace Callwood served the people of the Virgin Island in his capacity as senator in the Seventh Legislature 1967-68 and the Eighth Legislature 1969-70. However, his dedication and commitment to serving the people of the Virgin Islands continued for decades after his tenure in office.”

The committee also received testimony concerning a resolution honoring and commending Boyd “Boyzie” Orlanzo Todman for his contributions to the people and the youth of the Virgin Islands.

Jaime Francis testified that Todman deserved the honor. “He’s a very good man, an individual who is totally dedicated to the youths of these Virgin Islands.”

Todman has run the Zero Tolerance Basketball program since the mid-90s. The program aims to deter violence by teaching sportsmanship.

The committee is chaired by Sen. Carla J. Joseph. Members attending were Sens. Javan James Sr., Samuel Carrion, Ray Fonseca, Alma Francis Heyliger, Kenneth Gittens, and Milton Potter.

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