Jan. 14, 2004 – The first official public screening of a documentary on the civil disobedience that led the U.S. Navy to discontinue weapons exercises on and around Vieques will be held on Saturday on the University of the Virgin Islands St. Croix campus with teleconference hookup to the St. Thomas campus.
The film, "Vieques: An Island Forging Futures," was produced and directed by Johanna Bermúdez-Ruiz. It will be featured at Saturday's 16th annual conference of the Society of Virgin Islands Historians, which is being co-sponsored by UVI's Social Sciences Division.
The conference, including the film showing, will be held in Room 401 of the Melvin Evans Center on the St. Croix campus. Teleconferencing will be with Chase Auditorium, which is Room B101 of the Business Administration Building on the St. Thomas campus.
On both campuses the public is invited to attend the film viewing, as well as other events on the conference program, which runs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. Admission is free. The conference theme is "Inter-island Connections in Historical Perspective."
"Our presenters will all deal with various aspects of that theme," George Tyson, conference chair, said. "We have people from the States, Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, and Virgin Islanders with Hispanic heritage. We're going to be exploring the concept of these islands as a kind of family of islands with geological, commercial and cultural links."
The conference speakers are Bermúdez-Ruiz, a native Crucian filmmaker based in New York but currently living on St. Croix, where she is preparing a major documentary on the Puerto Rican community; Mitch Kent, a historian who teaches at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College on Tortola; Wanda Mills-Bocachica, a St. Thomian with a background in architecture, urban planning and literary writing who researched marginalized Afro-Puerto Rican communities for her doctoral dissertation; and Svend Holsoe, a Danish-American historian and anthropologist who is professor emeritus at the University of Delaware.
The program will begin at 9 a.m. with welcoming and opening remarks by Arnold Highfield, retired UVI professor and president of the historians society; Aletha Baumann, UVI assistant professor of psychology and current chair of the St. Croix campus Social Sciences Division; and Tyson.
At 9:15 a.m., Kent is to make his presentation of "The Patterns of English Settlement in the Virgin Islands, 1635-1745."
At 10 a.m., Mills-Bocachica will speak on "Danish West Indians in Puerto Rico: Interactions in Loiza and Ponce."
At 11 a.m., Bermúdez-Ruiz will address the gathering on "Reflections on the Puerto Rican Experience on St. Croix." The screening of her film on Vieques will follow, at 11:20 a.m.
And at 11:45 a.m., Holsoe is to speak on "The Liberated Africans of Tortola: Their Lives over Space and Time."
Bermúdez-Ruiz, who is at work now on another film that will document the migration of people from Vieques and Culebra to the Virgin Islands, is "interested in meeting with people who may have archival material about the migration from Vieques and Culebra to the Virgin Islands," a UVI release stated.
She and Tyson both expressed hope that high school and college students, especially, will attend the conference. For more information, call Tyson at 772-0664.
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