ST. THOMAS – Members of the 35th Legislature, led by Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr., hosted the African Liberation Day Celebration Ceremony at the Capitol Building. The event was held in recognition of Act 5473, which proclaims the third week of May as Virgin Islands African Heritage Week. Furthermore, the Legislature on African Liberation Day shall hold appropriate ceremonies on the grounds of the Capitol Building, including raising the African Liberation Day Flag.
In his remarks, Senator Francis stated that there is great significance in celebrating our history, both good and bad, as people of African descent. “Our stories deserve to be in the history books. Our roots are deep, and through our roots, we are bound to all African people in this diaspora. Our cultural bearers are passing the torch to the next generation.”
In a video presentation, Senator Angel L. Bolques, Sr. mentioned that over the years, Africa has progressed after colonial rule. “As we commemorate and honor African Liberation Day, let us pay homage to our ancestors.”
Keynote Speaker: Anna Wallace Francis stated that it takes faith, knowledge, and understanding to solve problems in our community. It is also important to pass on this torch of knowledge, culture, and tradition to our next generation. “I am pleased to be a part of honoring our history. Too often we get sidetracked by the word African but don’t see it as us here in the Virgin Islands. Please note that we are one of the few places where our law was enacted and embodied. We are to acknowledge and celebrate African Liberation Day.”
Act No. 5473 to proclaim the third week in May, as population of the Virgin Islands are African; and whereas, these Africans were brought to the Virgin Islands by force, taken away from their homeland, family, and culture; and whereas time should be set aside to remember our proud African heritage; and whereas, the Legislature of the Virgin Islands urges all residents to join in the observance of the Virgin Islands African Heritage Week, which will serve to commemorate the evolution of the Virgin Islands, through our African Heritage; Now, therefore, be it enacted by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands. The Act was approved on November 3, 1989.
The African Liberation Day Celebration program was as follows: The conch shell horn call to order was done by Jason Meade, Sr., Cultural Tradition Artist. The Empress of Ceremonies was Kurell Sheridan, JD, Executive Director of the 35th Legislature. The South African Anthem and the Virgin Islands was sung by the Ulla F. Muller Bamboula Dancers and Drummers. Libation was performed by the honorable Myron Jackson and Malaki Thomas. The invocation and the benediction delivered by Rev. Sandye Wilson, Dean at the Cathedral of All Saints. The recitation of VI Code Title 1 Chapter 11 Section 192 was by Kuumba Ola-Niya of the Pan African Support Group. The Heritage Tributes were done by Queens of the Earth and the Echo People. Senators Angel L. Bolques, Jr and Novelle E. Francis shared remarks. The Keynote Speaker Address of African Liberation was by Anna Wallace-Francis. Afterwards, the celebration continued the Legislative Grounds in which the raising of the flag took place. The National African Anthem was sung by Nkosi Sikelel ‘IAfrika, (God Bless Africa) Azanian National Anthem Lift Every Voice and Sing.
The following senators attended the meeting: Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Marvin A. Blyden, Ray Fonseca, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Carla J. Joseph, Marise C. James, Alma Francis Heyliger, and Milton E. Potter. ###