Crucian native Angela Golden Bryan authored two books selected for the 22nd Annual Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, with support from the Department of Tourism, represented the U.S. Virgin Islands as a territory affiliate at the Sept. 3 event.
Bryan’s books, “James and the Fireburn” and “Fireburn the Screenplay,” were the children’s and adult’s books selected as the designated Great Reads for 2022 as part of the festival.
“James and the Fireburn” is an anti-bullying human rights story inspired by the USVI event and focuses on children making wise choices while also educating the reader on local Caribbean history. The book takes challenging subjects and presents them in a fun and poetic way, which makes the story and the lesson easier to understand and remember. It is age-appropriate and encourages children to stand up for what is right rather than remain silent, Bryan said.
“Fireburn the Screenplay” is also based on the history of St. Croix and the USVI’s labor revolt in 1878. Bryan pays tribute to the leadership of the three “queens” who stood up against the unfair treatment of the emancipated laborers. Passion, purpose, and revenge are woven into Bryan’s vivid descriptions and historical references for the reader to experience.
According to the CFVI press release, The first National Book Festival in 2001 has become one of the most prominent literary events in the United States and unites bestselling authors and thousands of readers for talks, panel discussions, book signings, and many other activities.
CFVI attended the festival for the first time to represent the USVI for literacy and reading and as a potential tourist destination for visitors. Children and family attendance have multiplied from 25,000 in 2001 to over 200,000 in 2019.
“CFVI is excited to be part of the Festival, which is returning after being on hold since the pandemic. This will be a unique opportunity to engage both young people and adults with information about the U.S. Virgin Islands, including our local culture, heritage, and history,” CFVI President Dee Baecher-Brown said. “With our partners in USVI Tourism, we appreciate this opportunity to spread awareness of the rich cultural and environmental treasures in the Virgin Islands and to entice an increasing number of visitors to the many varied wonders of our islands.”
Prior to Bryan’s presence at the Festival, she traveled to St. Croix during August to visit some of the local schools to do screenings of her documentary, as well as visits to elementary schools to read her children’s book. “The in-person events are in conjunction with the literacy campaign that my nonprofit is sponsoring,” she said.
“I am thankful to VI Department of Education Director of Cultural Education Stephanie Chalana Brown, who took me around to the schools, assisted in taking photographs, and was an all-around help to me in getting my visit accomplished. It was a special joy for me to interact with the students and to visit Claude O. Markoe Elementary School, where my mother, the late Martha L. Golden, taught for many years and where I attended first grade,” Bryan said.
“The whole storytelling journey has been very fulfilling for me,” Bryan said. She started in elementary school reciting poetry to audiences. Later, she acted on stage throughout high school and college, and then she went on to act in television and film as an adult.
“Now I am authoring books and producing films. There is no way I could have predicted any of this,” Bryan said. “I’m so grateful to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands for being such a huge part of my journey and helping me share my stories far beyond what I could have done on my own.”
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