79.6 F
Cruz Bay
Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Downtown Charlotte Amalie was alive Monday morning with the sounds of trumpets, trombones and drum rolls, as at least 10 marching bands paraded from the Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church down Main Street and onto Veterans Drive to Emancipation Garden to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The marchers included about 100 Ivanna Eudora Kean High School members, a huge contingent of the Charlotte Amalie High School Junior ROTC who performed the national anthem and the V.I. march at the ceremony, a handful of Baha'i worshippers, a large number of Seventh-day Adventist Pathfinders, members of the Boys and Girls Club and representatives of We from Downstreet.
The ceremony was musically punctuated by offerings from the Unlimited Praise choir of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Contemporary Gospel Choir from Christ Church Methodist Church, JoJo and Friends, the CAHS Junior ROTC and Addelita Cancryn Junior High School students.
Prayers, music and pleas for brotherhood dominated the ceremony, but none were more eloquent than two children from Joseph Sibilly Elementary School. The large audience was silent as, barely reaching the microphone, the sweet and articulate voices of Beige Auradou and Tafara Francis asked the audience to honor Dr. King's vision, not to believe in the "god of money" but to "believe in the dream."
Their pleas were backed by the 12 young members of the V.I. Pride Boys Choir whose vibrant rendition of "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" had the hundreds gathered in the park tapping their feet and clapping along.
The celebration featured remarks from Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and Congressional Delegate Donna Christian Christensen. Territorial Judge Audrey Thomas-Francis was the keynote speaker.
"Be the very best you can," the judge said. "As Dr. King said, 'Do not set out to be merely good, be the best.'"
If you are a musician, she said, be a Beethoven; if you write, be a Shakespeare. She challenged all Virgin Islanders to heed King's vision. Thomas-Francis said that in her role as a judge, she lives by the late civil rights leader's words: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Thomas-Francis honored past Virgin Islanders in a moving mandate to "live with honor like the late Judge Almeric Christian; if you teach, teach like Jane E. Tuitt; and if you rule, rule like Governor Cyril E. King."
Turnbull gave an impassioned address, striking out against "racism, injustice and divisiveness."
"We must do better," he said. He noted the lack of respect he sees in community leadership. "We must respect all," he said, "whether you are born here, no matter where you come from, and what your agenda is – we have to walk the walk if we talk the talk."
Turnbull cautioned his audience that young Virgin Islanders observe adults' "obnoxious behavior" and "they listen to what we say."
Delegate Christensen, resplendent in white, said that difficult times are not ahead of us – "they are here." She said it was up to our leaders to unify and to keep King's dream alive. "Do not let this become a dream deferred," she said.
Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd exhorted listeners to "live the dream" and, quoting the Bible by way of Abraham Lincoln, reiterated that "a house divided cannot stand."
Pastor Agnola Martin of the Deeper Life Church gave the invocation and the benediction. He asked all Virgin Islanders to pray for unity, and to "pray for the senators to give up their discord."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.