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Crucians Celebrate Life of D. Hamilton Jackson

Nov. 2, 2007 — With speeches, songs and skits, Crucians celebrated the life of native son David Hamilton Jackson at the celebration held annually in Estate Grove Place on St. Croix.
Jackson was an educator, journalist, judge, legislator and labor leader.
“We are here to reflect on a giant, the peoples’ man, a great leader,” said Grove Place Action Committee member Colleen Carter as she set the tone for the day’s activities. “This is one of the most important holidays in the quest for self government.”
Behind her, on the dais, were several notables including Gov. John de Jongh, Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis, Senate President Usie R. Richards and a bevy of beauties who will be participating in the upcoming Miss St. Croix Festival pageant. Also on the stage was 100-year-old Eulalie R. Rivera. Grove Place’s only elementary school is named in her honor.
Standing under the shade of several wide spreading almond trees, about 500 people gathered in the community area for the annual historical event. In the center of the grassy area stands a gazebo that serves as the speakers platform. Children played around the bust of D. Hamilton Jackson, located in front of the gazebo, some touching the labor leader’s face and hair as if trying to connect to the man whose legacy lives on. In the background more children frolicked on playground equipment while the aroma of native foods wafted from under tents ringing the area.
“It’s an honor for me to be here,” de Jongh said, noting that this was the first year he attended the ceremony as governor. “The view is better from up here,” de Jongh said with a laugh from the platform. He said it was “joyful” to see the number of children in the area being a part of cultural activities.
De Jongh mentioned the recent swearing in of delegates to the Fifth Constitutional Convention. “As we honor D. Hamilton Jackson and as we look at our delegates,” deJongh said, “we have dedicated individuals that will take us on a better path.” He urged all residents to be involved in the process and “be a part of history.”
Members of the civic organization, Generation Now, brought an innovative, thought-provoking addition to the program. They performed a skit in which an employee was asked by his supervisor to work on a holiday without overtime pay. The worker said he would take a break and then take his grievance to the union. While on break, the worker fell asleep and had a dream about a Virgin Islands without D Hamilton Jackson. In his dream he saw several workers including a nurse, a police officer, a telephone company worker and a teacher complaining about long hours, no personal leave, unfair wages and no benefits. The worker was dumfounded at these claims and asked if they had gone to their union representative. He found out that not only was there no union and workers were subjected to unfair labor practices but there was no local newspaper to promote the people’s point of view.
Speaking on behalf of the 27th Legislature, Sen. Richards indicated that past actions by Jackson can fuel today’s crusade for fairness.
“Change can only occur when we band together and take action,” Richards said.
Calling Jackson a “legendary Virgin Islands hero,” Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis also mentioned that this year’s celebration takes on additional significance because the process of writing a constitution has begun.
Youth talent was featured during the program with Posting of the Colors by the St. Croix Central High Junior ROTC, and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by Sasha Evans. The Grove Place Weed and Seed after school anti-drug program entertained with a lively banjo and singing presentation under the direction of local calypsonian Camille “Derby” Macedon. Also showing off their musical prowess was the Eulalie Rivera Quelbe band directed by musician/teacher Edwin Russell and the Cultural Dance Group.
The participants of the Crucian Christmas Festival, Mr. and Miss St. Croix, Prince, Princess and Duchess, were introduced and allowed to say a few words.
After the speeches and presentations the crowd went on to enjoy the food and camaraderie that always accompanies gatherings like this.

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