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175th Emancipation Commemoration, a defining moment for the U.S. Virgin Islands, says Committee Chairwoman

Source: Virgin Islands 175th Emancipation Commemoration Committee

The U.S. Virgin Islands to commemorate emancipation on July 3

175th Emancipation Commemoration, a defining moment for the U.S. Virgin Islands

ST. CROIX (July 2, 2023) – On the eve of the historic 175th anniversary of Emancipation in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), set for Monday, July 3, 2023, Chairwoman of the Commemoration Committee Carol Burke is urging Virgin Islanders to recognize the historical significance of this milestone and to “capture a better-defined future for ourselves.”

Burke, a community leader and former Virgin Islands senator, expressed her enthusiasm for the overwhelming momentum and widespread interest generated in the planning and preparation for Monday’s landmark holiday. She noted that the significance of the Emancipation Commemoration has resonated not only locally but also regionally and nationally, demonstrating the profound impact and historical importance of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Noting that the 175th commemoration is an opportunity to “reshape and reset,” Chairwoman Burke emphasized that looking back should serve as both a reminder of the journey behind and an opportunity to pave the way for a brighter future. She recognized the significance of the ancestral journey of which Virgin Islanders have been a part and believes the future is not only about reclaiming the heritage of Virgin Islanders but also about charting a new course that inspires and uplifts.

The Emancipation Commemoration features a range of events and programs designed to honor the heritage of the Virgin Islands and celebrate the hard-won freedom of its people. 

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church held a special service on Sunday to recognize its own 175th year of existence, intertwining the history of the church with that of the Virgin Islands.

The schedule on Monday, July 3 encompasses the official commemoration ceremony, a luncheon presentation, and a captivating closing event.

The day’s activities will commence at 6 a.m. with a fort-to-fort walk, led by former USVI senator and agriculture commissioner, Positive Nelson. The walk will take participants from Fort Christiansvaern to Fort Frederik on St. Croix, symbolizing a powerful journey of remembrance and resilience. In Frederiksted, churches will join in by ringing their bells, further amplifying the spirit of commemoration. 

At 11 a.m. at Buddhoe Park, the official emancipation ceremony will take place, featuring an extraordinary lineup of esteemed guests and dignitaries, including U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr.; Christina Markus Lassen, Denmark’s Ambassador to the United States; John Brewer, Director, Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) in the U.S. Department of the Interior; Basil Ottley, Director of Policy – U.S. Virgin Islands, OIA; Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett, U.S. Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress; public officials and members of the 35th Legislature of the U.S. Virgin Islands; community and organization leaders; and NAACP Chairman Emeritus Roslyn M. Brock who will deliver the keynote address.

Carol Burke, Chairwoman of the 175th Emancipation Commemoration Committee

To view video click HERE

Roslyn M. Brock, a nationally recognized civil rights, health policy and equity advocate, social justice change agent, and Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP, is the keynote speaker. Her address promises to leave a lasting impression on attendees, whether present at the venue or tuning in via radio or television.

She stated, “‘Remembering our past, celebrating our future’ is not simply a theme to guide our activities related to this historic event, it’s a solemn charge that demands our commitment to not only remember our forebears and their struggles but also to ensure that our actions today continue to build on the foundation they laid.

“To the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands and all who stand with us on this momentous occasion, I extend my deepest gratitude for the privilege to address you. Together we will pay tribute to the past, embrace the present, and celebrate our glorious future because courage will not skip this generation,” she added.

For more information and updates on the 175th Emancipation Commemoration, visit

Roslyn M. Brock, NAACP Chairman Emeritus

To view video click HERE

About the Virgin Islands 175th Emancipation Commemoration Committee

The Virgin Islands 175th Emancipation Commemoration Committee was formed to oversee and create events, activities, awareness and engagement pertaining to the 2023 celebrations. On July 1, 2022, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. signed an executive order establishing the committee to oversee the Territory’s preparations for events to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The mission of the committee is to commemorate the U.S. Virgin Islands’ 175th Emancipation with inclusive programs that educate, engage and inspire U.S. Virgin Islanders to renew and strengthen their achievement. The vision is that the shared experiences of 175 years will have ignited imaginations, illuminated diverse stories, inspired service to others, and demonstrated years of achievement, struggle, sacrifice and resilience, while framing the narrative of the next 175 years.

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