ST. THOMAS – The Committee on Government Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer
Protection, chaired by Sen. Carla Joseph convened in a meeting at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall. All items on today’s agenda were approved and will be sent to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary
for further consideration.
In Block 1, the Committee received testimony concerning Bill No. 35-0006, an act honoring and
commending former Senator George E. Goodwin for his many years of expansive contributions to the Virgin Islands community as a whole, through his roles in various areas of service to the territory as well as advocation for social justice for underserved people in the Virgin Islands; to rename the Cricket Field located on Parcel H of Tract 1, Estate Nazareth, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands in his honor; and to award former Senator George E. Goodwin the Virgin Islands Medal of Honor; and for other related purposes. The measure was proposed by Senator Carla J. Joseph.
The Honorable Donna Christiansen, the former Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress delivered
testimony. Christiansen spoke the laurels of George Goodwin, calling him a good friend. Christian
stated that she first met him in the 1980s when she first became a part of the Democratic Territorial
Committee and active in Democratic Party politics. Christiansen mentioned you could not be around
George and not be drawn into the politics of the day. Goodwin also served as a senator, the
administrator of GERS Administrator, Chief of Staff to Lt. Governor Luz James, and advisor to
Governor Turnbull. Goodwin was perhaps no greater advocate for the alleviation of the plight of
immigrants who were under the bonded system in the Virgin Islands. Goodwin was determined and
untiring in working with then delegate Ron DeLugo to secure the passage of the Virgin Islands Non-Immigrant Alien Adjustment Act of 1981. Christiansen stated that Goodwin’s contributions are
enumerable and far reaching.
Gregory Goodwin, the oldest son of George Goodwin delivered testimony. Gregory Goodwin said his
father will one day be remembered as one of the great unsung heroes of the development and
advancement of the Virgin Islands in the 20th and 21st centuries. Originally from Antigua, he was a
founding member of the Alien Interest Movement, which he was a primary advocate for thousands of
people seeking to legally migrate to the US Virgin Islands. He personally prepared the documentation
necessary for many to become a permanent resident or US Citizen.
He was concerned about the harsh treatment of thousands of migrants and became an expert in federal immigration laws, rules, and procedures. A major issue that Goodwin fought for was the education of children, both those born in the Virgin Islands to immigrant parents, and those who were born in other islands, and immigrated to the Virgin Islands. He sued the Government of the Virgin Islands on behalf of the Alien Interest Moment to secure the right of all children in the US Virgin Islands to matriculate to public school, regardless of origin, and won the judgement. One of his most notable bills was to make mandatory the use of the University of the Virgin Islands as the de facto researcher of the Government of the Virgin Islands, as opposed to the then widespread practice to contract such work to a mainland firm.
Roosevelt David, a former senator, and businessperson delivered additional testimony in favor of the
proposed measure. David stated that Goodwin has served the Virgin Islands community in various
capacities, offering his talent, skills, and service to ensure that humanity be treated with dignity.
Goodwin realized that there were underprivileged people in the Virgin Islands, sacrificed, and
confronted the source of the atrocities. Goodwin became a respected force within the Alien Interest
Movement. Goodwin battled with former Delegate to Congress, Ron DeLugo and the green card status came into being through a measure passed by congress.
James O’ Bryan, Jr, a former senator, and former State Chairperson of the Virgin Islands Democratic
Party delivered testimony. O’Bryan continued to deliver praise of Goodwin. He mentioned that
Goodwin was a trusted political ally, colleague, and friend. Per Bryan’s testimony, Goodwin is
responsible for planting the idea to then Governor Alexander Farrelly, for the government’s opening
discussion to purchasing the West Indian Company in 1991. O’Bryan mentioned that Goodwin fought
for dignity, acceptance, public education, and human rights for Caribbean and non-citizens migrating
into the US Virgin Islands. O’Bryan stated that Goodwin is very much comparable to California’s
Cesar Chavez, the legendary Mexican migrant worker advocate.
Mr. Doyle Jones, the President of the St. Thomas Cricket Association delivered testimony. Jones stated that Goodwin made substantial contributions to the sport of cricket, not only in the St. Thomas-St. John district, but throughout the territory. Goodwin served as the president and secretary of the St. Thomas Cricket Association and as President of the Combined Virgin Islands Cricket Association. In 1985, Goodwin led the Virgin Islands delegation to Antigua, where he advocated to the Leeward Islands Cricket Board that the Virgin Island should be recognized as a full member. As a senator, he
appropriated funding to make sure of the long-term viability of the sport. Goodwin sponsored regional
and international cricket games, which provided an opportunity for cricket lovers to enjoy the sport.
The Honorable Reverend Dr. Bentley Thomas delivered further testimony. Per Dr. Thomas’ testimony,
Goodwin stood up for the rights of migrant workers. Goodwin believed that standing up for justice for
the migrant workers was beneficial for the socio-economic development of the Virgin Islands, and not
just for the migrants. Goodwin stood up for equal pay, many of whom were paid less than half of the
going rate of play. He also spent much of his time developing means and ways through which migrants could release their frustration and depression, including providing spaces to play soccer and cricket. Thomas stated that Goodwin seeks no personal recognition and has always exemplified himself as one who wants to help the other person.
Senator Carla Joseph, who was formerly employed by the Goodwin, stated that it was so fitting for the
Legislature to give Goodwin this long overdue honor.
In Block 2, the Committee received testimony concerning Bill No. 35-0009, An Act amending title 1
Virgin Islands Code, chapter 11, section 171(a) relating to the observance of national holidays and
enacting The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act to declare June 19 a legal holiday in the
Virgin Islands. The measure was sponsored by Senator Marvin A. Blyden and co-sponsored by
Senators Angel L. Bolques, Jr. and Ray Fonseca.
The Honorable Myron D. Jackson, former senator delivered testimony. Per Jackson’s testimony,
Juneteenth, also known as National Independence Day, Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Black
Independence Day, commemorates June 19, 1865, when approximately 2,000 union troupes arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas and announced that the 250,000 enslaved African Americans were free by
executive order. This was two years after the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President
Abraham Lincoln. This was seventeen years after Emancipation in the current US Virgin Islands,
then the Danish West Indies. Juneteenth became the 12th federal holiday in 2021, 156 years after the delayed announcement of freedom in Galveston, when S.475 passed the U.S. Senate on June 15th, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 16, and signed into law on June 17th, by President Biden. The US Virgin Islands has been at the forefront of movement of liberation, emancipation, equality, civil rights, and self-determination across the African Diaspora. This year will be the 175th anniversary of the emancipation of slavery in the now US Virgin Islands. The Danish West Indies, now the US Virgin Islands, has been inexplicably linked to the contributions and advancements of African Americans in the United States of America.
The Committee also received testimony concerning Bill No. 35-0011, an act honoring and
commending former Senator Horace A. Callwood, Sr. posthumously for his dedication, service,
and commitment to the people of the Virgin Islands and naming the north-south street immediately
east of Windward Passage in his memory. The proposed measure was sponsored by Senators
Marvin A. Blyden, Angel L. Bolques Jr, and Carla J. Joseph.
Mr. James O’Bryan, Jr., Former State Chair, Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands delivered
testimony. O’ Bryan stated that Callwood was one of the many young people at the time that were
recruited to build a modern and more progressive Virgin Islands. According to O’ Bryan, Callwood
came up to him and whispered in his ear and told him “Remember, 35% of the people will never
vote for this party. You make sure you fight for the 65% that will”. It was a reminder that politicians
cannot please everyone, but always seek to please the majority. O’Bryan stated that Callwood
brought grace, glass, civility, wise counsel, integrity, dedication, patience, and commitment to the
Virgin Islands and the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands in particular. O’Bryan said that
Callwood urged us to never to rest, preached, and insisted that we as a people prevail in economics,
job opportunities, health, technology, and individual freedom.
Mr. Eduardo Corneiro, Chair of the Horace Callwood Breakfast Club delivered testimony.
Callwood was incredibly instrumental in collaborating with former senator Earle B. Ottley,
Valdemar Hill Sr, and other members of the Victory 66 Effort that built up the populist grassroots
Unity Democratic Party that changed the law and substantially put into existence Title 18, that
opened all political parties to whoever chose to join and participate in. This allowed the Unity
Party to register in mass and join the Donkey Democratic Party, which would then be the
foundation for today’s Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands. Per Corneiro’s testimony, some of
his favorite sayings were “lets agree to disagree” and “we can disagree without being
Chaneel Callwood-Daniels, the daughter of Horace A. Callwood Sr. delivered testimony in favor
of the proposed measure. Callwood-Daniels recalled looking through her father’s archives, finding
a flyer from the 1966 era, which described the “Poor People’s Campaign”. According to Callwood-Daniels, this led to thousands of people in the Virgin Islands achieving home ownership over the
years. He never gave up the fight for the people and growing the economy. He wanted our people
to get a piece of the rock. He was a part of senators changed election law that created Title 18,
which gave Virgin Islanders our civil rights by opening opportunities for people to freely join
political parties of their choice, without being invited and thereby meaningfully participate in
shaping party platforms. She stated that he loved the VI and wanted to build it up.
Finally, in Block 3, the Committee received testimony concerning Bill No. 35-0007, A Resolution
honoring and commending Mr. Boyd “Boyzie” Orlanzo Todman for his many contributions to the
people and the youth of the Virgin Islands. The proposed measure was sponsored by Senators
Dwane M. Degraff and Angel L Bolques, Jr.
The Honorable Allison Petrus, Former Senator, delivered testimony in favor of the proposed
measure. Petrus, a friend of Boyzie, played on several basketball teams together, as well as playing
on other teams including touch football and stickball. After Petrus was elected to the Senate in
1995, a major part of his mission became developing youth programs. One of Petrus’ first missions
was calling Boyzie into his office, which later resulted in the birth of Zero Tolerance Basketball.
After Petrus left the Senate, Boyzie did not lose his passion. Petrus stated that one of Boyzie’s
most unusual requests was him asking to bring back loads of Krispy Kreme doughnuts back to the
territory, which would then be used as a fundraiser to assist future trips. Petrus stated that the honor
was truly fitting and appropriate for him and lauded him for his commitment.
Senators present at today’s committee hearing included Carla J. Joseph, Javan E. James, Sr.,
Marvin A. Blyden, Angel L. Bolques Jr., Samuel Carriόn, Diane T. Capehart, Ray Fonseca,
Novelle E. Francis Jr., Alma Francis Heyliger, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Kenneth L. Gittens,
Dwayne M. Degraff and Milton E. Potter