Virgin Islands History and Cultural Resources

The Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education facilitates the transmission of clear and concise knowledge of the history and culture of the Virgin Islands to the diverse students and adults of the Territory’s schools and neighborhoods, regardless of ethnicity. Enculturation and acculturation lead to greater respect for the Virgin Islands' way of life, by advancing the culture to achieve a more heterogeneous society.

Learn About

Guardians of Our Heritage - Teacher Door Challenge for VI History Month 2024

March 12, 2024, 12:35 p.m.

door challengeThe "Guardians of Our Heritage" challenge is a special initiative designed exclusively for teachers in the Virgin Islands, celebrating their role as stewards of the territory's cultural and historical legacy.

This challenge invites teachers from both public and private schools across the districts of St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John to creatively decorate their classroom doors or a designated space within their schools. The decorations should reflect the theme "We Are All Stewards of Our Virgin Islands Culture and Heritage," emphasizing the importance of preserving and honoring the unique traditions, stories, and natural beauty of the Virgin Islands.

https://goopenusvi.vide.vi/courseware/lesson/534

Challenge Objectives

- To highlight and celebrate the critical role teachers play in preserving the Virgin Islands' cultural and historical heritage.

- To encourage teachers to showcase their creativity and personal connection to the theme of cultural and environmental stewardship.

- To foster a sense of community and shared responsibility among educators across the territory in promoting Virgin Islands history and culture.

 

Participation Guidelines

- Eligibility: Open to all teachers in the St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John districts, encompassing both public and private schools.

- Theme Interpretation: Decorations must embody the theme, showcasing elements of Virgin Islands culture, history, and the concept of stewardship.

- Materials: Participants are encouraged to use sustainable, recyclable, and locally sourced materials to emphasize environmental stewardship.

- Submission: Teachers must submit photos and a brief description of their door decoration, explaining the elements used and how they relate to the theme.

 

Prizes

- Awards: All submissions will be showcased on VIDE’s and its partner's social media pages. Three teachers from each district (St. Croix, and St. Thomas-St. John) will be selected as winners.

2024 Virgin Islands History Month Professional Development - Emphasis: Carrying Our Stories into the Digital Age

March 11, 2024, 3:32 p.m.

2024 Lectures

As we embrace Virgin Islands History Month this March, Here is a comprehensive overview of the enriching professional development for teachers planned by the Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education. We aim to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of our heritage and history of the Virgin Islands among educators and students alike.

Theme: WE ARE ALL STEWARDS OF OUR VIRGIN ISLANDS CULTURE AND HERITAGE”

Theme Narrative: As stewards of our culture, we warmly welcome educators to pull the standards by dragging the populated standards into platforms like "Lesson Design Studio" and "Go Plans." These District lesson plan platforms allow educators to seamlessly integrate our cultural standards into their teaching, making lessons come alive with the spirit of our islands.

https://goopenusvi.vide.vi/courses/vide-kallaloo-framework

We recognize that educators are already making strides in promoting cultural awareness. However, by integrating these standards into lesson plan platforms, we can better showcase the profound impact and significance of culturally infused education.

Here is a breakdown of the professional development opportunities for teachers scheduled for Virgin Islands History Month 2024:

 

1. Virtual Professional Development Session with Monica Marin

   - Date: Wednesday, March 13

   - Time: 9:00 am - 10:00 am

   - Description: Join us for an engaging virtual professional development session led by Monica Marin, an esteemed curator and educator from the Virgin Islands. Marin's expertise in art history, theory, and criticism will offer educators invaluable insights into Virgin Islands history through art, enhancing their ability to convey compelling narratives to their students.

 

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81516659501?pwd=DNmsBUiluV65TbcBF6LbOrChFMP99S.1

Meeting ID: 815 1665 9501

Passcode: t9VdLs

 

2. Professional Development Initiative with VIAC

   - Date: Thursday, March 14

   - Time: 9:00 am - 10:00 am

   - Description: In collaboration with the Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Built Heritage and Crafts (VIAC), this initiative aims to equip teachers with innovative storytelling strategies within cultural spaces. By exploring the architectural heritage of the Virgin Islands, educators will foster connections between past and present, nurturing a deeper appreciation for our cultural legacy through the built arts.

 

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81516659501?pwd=DNmsBUiluV65TbcBF6LbOrChFMP99S.1

Meeting ID: 815 1665 9501

Passcode: t9VdLs

 

  

The 2024 American Ancestors Young Family Historians Essay Contest

March 11, 2024, 3:21 p.m.

aa posterThe 2024 American Ancestors Young Family Historians Essay Contest is open for students enrolled in grades 4–12 in public, private, parochial, and home schools across the nation and US territories. This year's contest invites students to share a story from their personal family history and to explain how lessons from that story can apply to their life today.

They encourage teachers to use this essay contest as a class project. Our Family History Curriculum has everything you need to help students explore their roots, including inquiry-based lessons, teaching strategies, and editable student worksheets.

Essay Question

Share a story from your personal family history. What lessons have you learned from that story, and how can you apply those lessons to your life today?

All entries must be submitted through the online portal by April 1, 2024. Winners will be announced in May 2024.

Eligible Participants: All public, private, parochial, and home school students enrolled in grades 4-12 in any U.S. state or territory.

Only one entry per student is allowed.

All entries must be the original work of an individual student. Entries must not have been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. Artificial intelligence tools cannot be used.

Entries which were written as an assigned school project are eligible for submission, but must fulfill all contest requirements.

 

Prizes

Grades 4-6

Winner: $500
Semifinalist: $250

Grades 7-8

Winner: $500
Semifinalist: $250

Grades 9-12

Winner: $500
Semifinalist: $250

Each winner and semifinalist will also receive a one-year student membership to American Ancestors.

https://www.americanancestors.org/essay-contest-2024

Submission Deadline: April 1, 2024

LEGIT TV Collaboration with the Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education

March 11, 2024, 3:12 p.m.

Legit tvAs we celebrate Virgin Islands History Month, the Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education, through the Virgin Islands Department of Education, is thrilled to announce our collaborative efforts with our territorial legislative entity. Together, we are providing digital resources on topics exploring Virgin Islands history, accessible on Legit TV platforms and cable TV.

This partnership signifies our commitment to reaching a broader audience and emphasizes the notion that education extends beyond the classroom. Both teachers and parents can access resources from VIDE's microsite, #goopenusvi, where they'll find lesson plans centered around engaging with Virgin Islands history:

https://goopenusvi.vide.vi/groups/virgin-islands-history-buffs/30/](https://goopenusvi.vide.vi/groups/virgin-islands-history-buffs/30/

We encourage your support for Legit TV's Virgin Islands history initiatives on their social media pages and through the uploaded links that collaborate with DIVE for VI History 2024. Remember, "We are All Stewards of Virgin Islands Culture and Heritage."

For more information and to engage with LEGIT VI, please visit:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4LMOU6CbkI](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4LMOU6CbkI
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZheMuZwrHYc](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZheMuZwrHYc

 

Stories of Women Leaders and Liberated Lives:

March 4, 2024, 10:20 a.m.

What does it mean to be extraordinary? Defy the odds and redefine benchmarks of success. Homeless at 19, Natalie builds a career as a pediatric neurosurgeon; Rebecca, one of the "Lost Girls of Sudan," finds a path to creating positive change; and Lachi fights discrimination as a disability rights advocate. Three storytellers, three interpretations of EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN; hosted by Theresa Okokon.

https://worldchannel.org/show/stories-stage/

 

Congresswoman Plaskett Black History Month Essay Contest 2024

Feb. 9, 2024, 6:43 a.m.

Congresswoman Plaskett Black History Month Essay Contest 2024

DVICE Youtube Playlst: A Treasure Trove of Educational Resources for Teachers, Organizations, and Parents

Jan. 29, 2024, 8:24 a.m.

Visit the Virgin Islands Department of Education's YouTube page and explore the Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education's playlist. Click here to begin your journey

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The Virgin Islands Department of Education proudly presents an invaluable digital resource: a comprehensive playlist of lectures and historical resources on our YouTube channel. 

For Educators: Enrich Your Classroom

Teachers, imagine bringing the vibrant history of the Virgin Islands directly into your classrooms. These resources offer an engaging way to complement your curriculum, giving your students a deeper understanding of our territory's evolution. From the early indigenous cultures to modern-day achievements, these lectures provide a wealth of information to spark curiosity and foster learning.

For Organizations: Foster Community Engagement

Organizations dedicated to cultural preservation and education can utilize these resources to inspire and educate community members. Host viewing sessions, followed by discussions, to delve into the topics that have shaped our territory. It's a fantastic opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations and strengthen community bonds.

For Parents: Connect with Your Heritage

Parents, this is your chance to introduce your children to the rich heritage of the Virgin Islands. These videos can be a starting point for family discussions about our history, culture, and identity. It's a wonderful way to connect with your roots and pass on the knowledge to the younger generation.

Discover Topics That Shaped Us

The playlist covers a range of topics, each significant to our evolution as a territory. From the impact of colonialism to the triumphs of our local heroes, these resources provide insights into what has shaped the Virgin Islands. Engage with these stories to understand our past and envision our future.

 

 

 

David Hamilton Jackson And All Ahwe Project

Sept. 28, 2023, 11:06 a.m.

David Hamilton Jackson and All Ahwe Student Project

We are excited to present an innovative and impactful project that will engage our students in artistic expression and the principles of activism: "David Hamilton Jackson and All Ahwe: Creative Expression for Cultivating Awareness and Social Change." This collaborative effort with the Department of Education's Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education and the annual Grove Place Committee observance of David Hamilton Jackson Month seeks to honor the legacy of David Hamilton Jackson while empowering our students to become advocates for positive societal transformation. 

Access to Lesson Plan: David Hamilton Jackson and All Ahwe 2023 Lesson Plan

Project Overview: "David Hamilton Jackson and All Ahwe: Creative Expression for Cultivating Awareness and Social Change" is a project intended to stimulate our students' exploration of the dynamic relationship between art and community activism utilizing the tools of rights, respect, and responsibility. Through this initiative, students will have the opportunity to craft artistic pieces that capture the essence of David Hamilton Jackson's contributions to labor rights, press freedom, and civil liberties in the Virgin Islands of the United States.

These creative works may manifest in various forms, including visual art, written compositions, music, and STEAM projects. 

Here is a link to the previous years' exhibitions: 

https://www.vide.vi/40-david-hamilton-jackson-student-submission-gallery.html?lang=en-us

https://stthomassource.com/content/2022/11/24/i-am-david-hamilton-jackson-student-art-show-opens-at-fort-frederik-saturday/

Goals: 

- Cultivate an appreciation for the principles of artistic activism among students. 

- Empower students to articulate their perspectives on social and political matters. 

- Deepen students' understanding of the enduring legacy of David Hamilton Jackson.

- Encourage students to employ their creativity as a means to effect positive change. 

Resources and Support: To facilitate the launch of this project, we will provide teachers with a comprehensive guide detailing the project's objectives, lesson plans, and assessment methods. Moreover, we will supply a curated selection of resources, encompassing literature, digital media, and historical materials, to immerse students in the context of David Hamilton Jackson's work and the tenets of artistic activism. 

In-Classroom Presentations: Recognizing that some subjects benefit from in-person presentations to inspire students and enhance comprehension, teachers may request presentations. During these sessions, experts will delve into David Hamilton Jackson's life and explore the intersection of art and activism. 

Exhibition and Celebration: All submissions from our talented students will have the opportunity to be showcased in the "David Hamilton Jackson and All Ahwe: Creative Expression for Cultivating Awareness and Social Change" exhibition.

This exhibition will run throughout November, coinciding with David Hamilton Jackson Month and Liberty Day in the Virgin Islands of the United States. It provides our students with a platform to demonstrate their creativity and their commitment to fostering positive change within our community. 

We firmly believe that this project will not only enrich our students' understanding of history and activism but also provide them with a platform to express themselves through artistic means. We eagerly anticipate collaborating to ensure the success of "David Hamilton Jackson and All Ahwe: Creative Expression for Cultivating Awareness and Social Change."

We extend our heartfelt appreciation for your unwavering dedication to the education and growth of our students.

Division Update: Deepening Our Understanding of Virgin Islands Icons Dr. Melvin Evans and Rev. Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden

Aug. 28, 2023, 1:28 p.m.

Division Update: Deepening Our Understanding of Virgin Islands Icons

We're thrilled to share that our division is on a forward trajectory, consistently producing comprehensive lesson plans complemented by supplementary resources. Our mission is to delve deeper, offering enriched context to our monthly features on the iconic figures of the Virgin Islands. This includes both those recognized by legislation and those who've made their mark without official acknowledgment. Their principles and monumental work have been instrumental in molding the territory's legacy.

In our recent endeavors, we've unveiled a lesson plan titled "Equitable Futures." This plan is inspired by the profound works of Dr. Melvin Evans and Rev. Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden. Additionally, we were honored to have insights from the Former Delegate to Congress, Donna Christensen, who illuminated the facets of equitable healthcare in the Virgin Islands, weighing its merits and challenges.

For those keen on diving deeper, we recommend the biography of Melvin Evans and Edward Wilmot Blyden, a health equity advocate. Blyden, a luminary in African American studies, has significantly influenced the realms of Pan-Africanism and religious studies. To enhance your understanding, we've sourced two informative videos:
- Exploring the Legacy of Dr. Melvin Evans
- The Contributions of Rev. Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden

 

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poster 2

poster 3

 

Lesson Plan: "Emancipatory Footsteps: Exploring and Envisioning the Virgin Islands"

Aug. 28, 2023, 7:48 a.m.

The Virgin Islands is experincing the 175th observance of the 1848 Emancipation Act, DVICE is excited to introduce a dynamic educational resource that not only celebrates this significant milestone but also encourages a deeper understanding of our shared history. The year 2023 marks a significant commemoration of the emancipation of all those enslaved in the Danish West Indies, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the stories, struggles, and triumphs of our ancestors are passed down to future generations.

We are proud to present the lesson plan titled "Exploring Emancipation: A Digital Walking Tour of Frederiksted." This immersive educational experience delves deep into the historical significance of Frederiksted, a beacon of hope and resilience where the emancipation of all enslaved individuals was achieved in 1848, largely due to the indomitable spirit and efforts of the enslaved themselves.

This lesson plan, a collaborative effort between the Crucian Nature and Tourism Organization and the Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education, is meticulously crafted to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of Frederiksted as an emblem of emancipation. It sheds light on the post-1848 emancipation evolution, offering a multi-layered perspective on the events that shaped our history.

Call to Action:
We encourage all educators to incorporate this invaluable resource into their curriculum. Furthermore, in the spirit of collaboration and shared knowledge, we invite teachers to share any additional lesson plans or resources they have developed around this theme. Together, we can ensure that our students receive a holistic and enriched understanding of our past, empowering them to shape a brighter future.

freedom statue

Virgin Islands Built Heritage Challenge - St. Croix

Aug. 18, 2023, 11:35 a.m.

The Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education strongly emphasized the subjects surrounding Post-Emancipation themes with the title: “2023 March Virgin Islands History Month: ‘Emancipation Now! Understanding History, Living the Legacy, and Creating a Just Future for All Ah We.’" This year marked the 175th anniversary of the Emancipation of all those enslaved in the then Danish West Indies in 1848, and there were conversations about our legacy post-Emancipation.

These lectures and activities gave teachers and students a deeper awareness of and a richer understanding of past issues and historical events regarding the 1848 Acts of Equity and its impact on our experiences. For a long period, the narratives of many estates and historical districts were told exclusively through one perspective, contributing to the erasure of the ingenuity of the Africans who were brought to these shores as enslaved individuals. Many of these enslaved Africans had exceptional craftsmanship skills and contributed to the vernacular of the then-Danish West Indies, which is now known as the Virgin Islands of the United States.

These islands were inextricably linked to the legacies of built heritage. A significant portion of the raw materials used to construct our historic structures came from the surrounding environment. We learned about our islands' history through architecture and heritage spaces that incorporated elements from our natural environments and bricks imported from Europe, illustrating the Virgin Islands' intertwined African and European creolized heritage. Our students took part in the Built Heritage Challenge and re-discovered many of our islands historical and architectual legacies.

Virgin Islands Built Heritage Challenge - St. Croix District

Virgin Islands Built Heritage Challenge - St. Croix District

 

Virgin Islands Built Heritage Challenge - St. Thomas - St. John District

Aug. 17, 2023, 3:48 p.m.

As you might have been aware, this year marks the 175th anniversary of the Emancipation of all those enslaved in the Danish West Indies in 1848 and the conversations about our legacy post-Emancipation. Those lectures and activities had given teachers and students a greater awareness of and a richer understanding of current issues and historical events regarding the 1848 Acts of Equity and its impact on our past experiences. As part of Viya's ongoing commitment to the Virgin Islands Department of Education, the company had shown its support. Likewise, the Virgin Islands Month Built Heritage Challenge had allowed three students from each school district to win a brand new Samsung or iPhone and one year of free mobile coverage when they participated in the competition. The Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education parntered with the Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Built Heritage and Craft and the DPNR's State Preservation office to provide context and coordinates to the ingenuty of Virgin Islands architectual legacy as well as the craftmanship of Africans in the then Danish West Indies. To take part in the challenge, students had to visit historical places and take a picture of themselves there. This was to show the built heritage of the Virgin Islands.

 

Virgin Islands Built Heritage Challenge - St. Thomas/St. John

Virgin Islands Built Heritage Challenge - St. Thomas/St. John

 

Freedom Week Emancipation Events

June 28, 2023, 11:09 a.m.

 

175

https://vi175.com/

June 30: St. Croix Living Legends of Culture Presentation and Reception. Sponsored by FirstBank, and the Call of the Conch Sponsored by Cruzan Rum and the Buccaneer Hotel.

July 2: St. Patrick’s Catholic Church Commemorative Holy Mass at 11 AM. Livestreamed by the 175th Emancipation Commemoration Committee.

July 2: Fort to Fort Freedom Ride on St. Croix at 8 AM. Sponsored by Tropical Shipping

July 3:

  • Fort to Fort Freedom Walk on St. Croix at 5 AM. Sponsored by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
  • Fort to Fort Freedom Race at 7 AM. Sponsored by Southland Gaming.
  • Emancipation Day Parade at the Post Office, Frederiksted, at 9:30 AM.
  • Tribute to the Ancestors – Libation at Buddhoe Park at 10 AM.
  • Official Emancipation Ceremony at Buddhoe Park at 11 AM / Official Emancipation Ceremony Simulcasted at Emancipation Garden on St. Thomas and Slim Man’s Locale on St. John at 11 AM / Broadcasted by WTJX and Livestreamed by the 175th Emancipation Commemoration Committee, and Powered by Viya.
  • Emancipation Luncheon on the Pier: Freedom, Feast & Folklore at 1 PM. Sponsored by VI Port Authority and Cruzan Rum.
  • 175th Emancipation Day Fireworks at 8 PM. Sponsored by Diageo USVI’s Captain Morgan.
  • “Unshackled” Music Festival in Freedom City at 8:30 PM. Sponsored by Diageo USVI’s Captain Morgan

July 4: Clear Deh Road Art Exhibition at Fort Frederik on St. Croix, at 4 PM. Sponsored by FirstBank.

2023 Virgin Islands History Month door/corridor challenge

March 6, 2023, 7:38 a.m.

Teacher Door Competition

The Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education within the Department of Education of the Virgin Islands is placing a significant amount of emphasis on the topics surrounding emancipation and post-emancipation in celebration of March being designated as Virgin Islands History Month through the use of the theme "Emancipation Now, Understanding History, Living the Legacy, and Creating a Just Future for All Ah We."

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the Emancipation Revolt in the Virgin Islands in 1848. Part of this year's VI History events are conversations about our legacy after emancipation. 

Submission of photographs by educators depicting their Class door or corridor decorated with artwork related to emancipation themes is strongly encouraged. All submissions will be made public on the Facebook page of the VI Department of Education. Residents are asked to vote for candidates based on the following criteria: creative use of materials, a direct correlation to VI liberation themes, organization, and content.

The top three entries from each district will win a Viya MIFI and one year of service if they receive the most votes.

Submit up until March 24, 2023

Stephanie.cbrown@vide.vi of the Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education

 

 

Black History Month: A graphic history of Ambassador Terence Todman’s rise through the diplomatic ranks.

Feb. 15, 2023, 9 a.m.

todmann

THE AMERICAN DIPLOMAT | COMIC

The Black Ambassador Who Took His Fight for Equality Straight to the State Department

A graphic history of Ambassador Terence Todman’s rise through the diplomatic rank

Text by Chuck Brown and Illustration by Takeia Marie

View the Comic book series below:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/american-diplomat-black-ambassador-fight-for-equality-state-department/

About Terence Todmann

Ambassador Terrence Todmann

Terence A. Todman, Jr. is a retired attorney. Over his career, he has been associated with a number of organizations, including, the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison (Paul Weiss), The Chase Manhattan Corporation (Chase), and, for a brief period, The Office of the Legal Advisor in the U. S. Department of State. His professional life includes serving as Managing Principal of a consulting firm on sustainable economic development, the Executive Director, North America, of a Kids’ Environmental Education Project for International Art and Technology Cooperation Organization (ArTech), and a founding partner and President of Strategic Wealthcare Partners. Terence A. Todman, Jr. joined Chase as a Senior Associate Counsel, became the General Counsel for the Chase Manhattan Private Bank, and then, the Managing Director and executive responsible for Chase’s Global Trust and Fiduciary business. While with Chase, he founded and served as the Managing Editor of The Chase Journal, a quarterly publication on U.S, international and cross-border wealth management and wealth transfer issues and was a member of a number of affiliated Boards and Committees. Terence A. Todman, Jr. began his professional legal career with Paul Weiss, as an associate specializing in corporate and international law. He received a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law and a B.A. from Brown University. Terence A. Todman, Jr. has served on a number of Boards, including, The Black Filmmaker Foundation, Covenant House, The International Trust Company Association, The Benjamin M. Cardozo School of Law, The Jazz and Contemporary Music Program of New School University and the Columbia University School of Dentistry. Terence A. Todman, Jr. was admitted to the bar in New York.

Source: Bureau of Global Public Affairs 

The U.S. Department of State Address

On May 5 2022, I had the honor of representing the U.S. Department of State at a ceremony naming the airport road in St. Thomas after Ambassador Terence A. Todman, a six-time Ambassador who held the second highest number of ambassadorial appointments in our nation’s history. He reached the highest heights of diplomatic excellence despite Jim Crow and segregation. Over six decades ago, Ambassador Todman traveled from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico for University. He eventually embarked on a career in public service, first as a military officer in Japan during WWII, and later to Washington where he began his journey in diplomacy.

Maryum Saifee, Senior Advisor in the Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, delivers remarks at the airport road naming ceremony in St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on May 5, 2022. [Photo still from Governor’s Office of the Virgin Islands video recording]
Maryum Saifee, Senior Advisor in the Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, delivers remarks at the airport road naming ceremony in St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, on May 5, 2022. [Photo still from Governor’s Office of the Virgin Islands video recording]

In 1957, when Ambassador Todman arrived at the Foreign Service Institute, he discovered as a Black officer, he couldn’t eat with his colleagues due to segregation laws in Virginia. Rather than stay silent, he spoke up. His principled dissent led to the eventual integration of the Department’s dining facilities. According to his son, Terence Todman, Jr., who spoke on a panel my office recently organized, his father intuitively knew that a more equitable State Department was necessary, not only because it was the morally right thing to do, but because the diversity of thought he – and others who didn’t fit the State Department mold –  brought to the table would ultimately make our foreign policy more effective.

Black History Month 2023: Contributions of Virgin Islanders to the Black American Experience

Feb. 15, 2023, 7:31 a.m.

Black History 2023   

A) Dr. Charles W. Turnbull - When Charles Turnbull was elected Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, he became the territory's sixth governor. St. Thomas is the proud birthplace of our esteemed governor Turnbull. The Virgin Islands, as one of the United States' newest spaces in modern history, Turnbull understood the significance of recording the territory's experience with the 246-year history of the United States. Governor Turnbull attended public schools in the Virgin Islands, where Harlem Renaissance author and educator, Jose Antonio Jarvis, mentored him. Turnbull taught at and eventually became the principal of Charlotte Amalie High School after graduating from Hampton University; he was promoted to Assistant Commissioner of the Virgin Islands education system in 1967. Turnbull was an elected delegate to all five constitutional conventions, where he fought for more freedoms for the Virgin Islands and staunchly defended the islands' unique culture and history. Turnbull published a book about the controversial Virgin Islander Casper Holstein titled, Unusual Humanitarian, as part of his effort to record the untold experiences of black and brown people living in erased U.S. areas. A Harlem Renaissance figure, Holstein frequently donated to the Virgin Islands using questionable means. Nonetheless, Turnbull published his research through his perspective into the Harlem Renaissance icon's whole persona, enhancing our understanding of the black American experience as a Virgin Islander. To strengthen the study of the Virgin Islands' history and culture and include it in the school system, Turnbull established the Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education during his tenure as Commissioner of Education in the Virgin Islands from 1979 to 1987. In 1998, Turnbull won the election as Governor of the Virgin Islands, a position he held until 2007. A cultural advocate and scholar, he has advanced discussions on the evolving identity of the Virgin Islands as part of the Black American experience. Turnbull passed away on July 2, 2022.

 

B) Frank Crosswaith - Nonstop migration to the Continental United States began in the middle of the nineteenth century, with many residents of the Virgin Islands settling in New York. This massive migration had multiple causes. There was a significant emigration of Danish West Indians to the United States for better education and employment before 1917. Such migration was later doubled by the United States 1917 annexation of the territory. The Virgin Islands Protective League and the Virgin Islands Congressional Council helped bring together Virgin Islanders in New York to rally in support of one another and charities to the territory. For the northern Black American labor movement, Frank Crosswaith, of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the Negro Labor Committee, was a pioneer. He was a longtime socialist politician, activist, and trade union organizer in New York City who founded and chaired the Negro Labor Committee, established on July 20, 1935 by the Negro Labor Conference. Crosswaith maintained a long association with union head A. Philip Randolph, serving with him as officers of the Negro Labor Committee in the 1930s and 1940s.In the early 1930s, Crosswaith worked as an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which became one of the major supporters of the Negro Labor Committee. 

 

C) Olasee Davis - Professor Olasee Davis was born on the island of St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands of the United States, but resides on the island of St. Croix, where he currently resides and maintains his academic and professional life. It was in 1998 that he helped start the St. Croix Hiking Association. Since then, his name has become synonymous with environmental activism and cultural and natural history on the island. At the St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands, he works as an assistant professor and extension specialist. Professor Davis leads numerous groups of students, teachers, preservationists, and others on hikes into sacred grounds, where he relates the history of lands past. Professor Davis has recently used his advocacy to draw attention to the national level on the environmental tragedy of the loss of The Krause Lagoon, the largest wetland in the Virgin Islands, to industrial development and to advocate for greater transparency of industrial companies' responsibilities to the health of the residents, especially as national conversations of environmental degradation of black and brown communities are taken place. This is a complex discussion as much of the Virgin Islands economy, especially St. Croix, has long thought to hang on our refinery. In the Washington Post, a widely regarded national newspaper, Davis was featured in the article "The island where it rained oil." Davis boldly stated, "When it comes to the refinery, the refinery always gets its way." This is on the heels of the release of oil and water vapor into St. Croix neighborhoods, especially Clifton Hill and the south shore residents' water supplies and roofing spouts, as Davis proclaimed to the vast population on the continental U.S. The incident ultimately caused the Biden administration, local government, and environmental organizations to decide to shutter the refinery. Many national dialogues and studies have relied on Professor Davis' extensive writings on preserving black historical spaces and ecological degradation in black and brown communities.

 

D) Dr. Carlyle Corbin is an international advisor on governance. Corbin has served as the former Minister of State for External Affairs of the Virgin Islands of the United States Government, as well as a member of its former Political Status Commission and Advisor to its Fifth Constitutional Convention. in his career, Dr. Corbin has served as an international advisor, to the Premier of Bermuda, the Prime Minister of Curacao and the President of French Polynesia. Dr. Corbin has lectured extensively on governance and political development at Bermuda College, the University of the South Pacific, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Puerto Rico, and the University of the West Indies. He is the author of two United Nations studies on the participation of non-independent countries in the United Nations system and numerous scholarly articles. Dr. Corbin analyzes the dehumanizing laws dictated to Pacific Islanders, Caribbean island nations, and especially the Virgin Islands of the United States through unified systems and ideologies. He has advocated on American television programming about inequitable citizenships and unfavorable laws imposed on the territory. He has been part of the faces on the United Nations floor engaging in politics of black and brown people to both U.S. leaders and International delegates.

 

E) Dr. Gloria Ida Joseph was a Virgin Islands academic that rallied Black studies and engaged in black, queer, and feminist activism for over 60 years. Ms. Joseph moved to New York as a child with her parents. According to sources. She was the great-niece of Virgin Islands-born and New York-based philanthropist and activist Casper Holstein. Dr. Joseph and her acclaimed life partner Audre Lorde lived on St. Croix for many years and even experienced hurricane Hugo, bringing about the award-winning publication, Hell Under God's Orders: Hurricane Hugo in St. Croix – Disaster and Survival. Joseph and Lorde were founding members of the Women Coalition of St. Croix and the Sisterhood in Support of Sisters in South Africa. Dr. Joseph's work includes the novel On Time and in Step: Reunion on the Glory Road and the bio anthology of Lorde, The Wind Is SpiritThe Life, Love, and Legacy of Audre Lorde. Joseph has co-authored "Common Differences: Conflicts in Black and White Feminist Perspectives" and many academic papers. 

 

F) Tim Duncan - Born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands of the United States, Tim Duncan played 19 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and led the San Antonio Spurs to five championship season games. He was selected to play in 15 All-Star games. He won the Rookie of the Year award, two MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, and five NBA championships. Duncan desired to become a professional swimmer like his Olympic-participating sister. However, Hurricane Hugo devastated the island's Olympic-sized swimming pool, and shortly after that, Duncan began playing basketball, although he was not at the time popular. As a senior at St. Dunstan's Episcopal High School on St. Croix, he averaged 25 points per game after overcoming his awkwardness. His performance garnered the interest of numerous universities. Wake Forest University basketball coach Dave Odom became particularly interested in Duncan's talent. Duncan attended Wake Forest University based on his academic merit and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020. Duncan was voted Rookie of the Year in 1998. In 2004, Duncan attained his lifelong ambition of appearing in the Olympics, assisting the U.S. men's basketball team to a bronze medal at the Athens Games. He ranks among the top 15 NBA players in career points at his retirement. He rejoined the Spurs for the 2019–20 NBA season as an assistant coach. 2020 saw Duncan's induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Duncan is also the youngest player on the Association for Professional Basketball Research's list of the "100 Greatest Professional Basketball Players of the 20th Century."

 

G) Elizabeth Anna Hendrickson - A forerunner in African-American politics during the Harlem Renaissance, Elizabeth Anna Hendrickson was once known as the First Lady of the Virgin Islands. She was also a leader in the League of American West Indian Ladies Aid Society and advocated for the Harlem tenants. She was a well-known street corner speaker and was involved in the struggles of the Harlem Tenants League in the 1920s. Harlem was a black metropolis, and West Indians were part of a larger, more Pan-African demographic group. Of the Caribbean immigrants, Virgin Islanders knew more about the U.S. and its discrimination against blacks due to the colonization of the Danish Islands in 1917. With Ashley L. Totten, she formed the Virgin Islands Protective Association, which aimed at addressing the mistreatment of those in their homeland.
 

Black History Month- National Gallery of Art: Harlem Renaissance: Respond and Relate | Activity

Jan. 31, 2023, 9:52 a.m.

Harlem Renaissance

James Van Der Zee, Garveyite Family, Harlem, 1924, printed 1974

James Van Der Zee, Garveyite Family, Harlem, 1924, printed 1974, gelatin silver print, Corcoran Collection (Gift of Eric R. Fox), 2015.19.4388

How do visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance explore black identity and political empowerment?

How does the visual art of the Harlem Renaissance relate to current-day events and issues?

How do migration and displacement influence cultural production?

https://www.nga.gov/learn/teachers/lessons-activities/uncovering-america/harlem-renaissance/harlem-renaissance-activity.html

Additional Resources

Africana Age: African and African Diasporan Transformations in the 20th Century, Maps, New York Public Library

Africana Age: African and African Diasporan Transformations in the 20th Century, The New Negro Renaissance, New York Public Library

Harlem Renaissance: A Resource Guide, Library of Congress

The Harlem Renaissance, Online Educational Resources, Humanities Texas

Jim Crow Laws, Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historical Park, National Park Service

Musée du quai Branly—Jacques Chirac, offering a brief history of its ethnographic/colonial collections

National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African Art

One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, Museum of Modern Art

On ‘The Creation’ and God’s Trombones,” Modern American Poetry

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library

Through the African American Lens: Afrofuturism: The Origin Story – A Smithsonian Channel Documentary - Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Jan. 31, 2023, 9:06 a.m.

afro futurism

  • Wednesday, February 8, 2023
  • 7:00pm - 9:00pm

In support of NMAAHC’s newest exhibition, Afrofuturism - A History of Black Futures, the public programs department will present the Afrofuturism: The Origin Story documentary produced by the Smithsonian Channel. Ytasha Womack, author, filmmaker, dancer, independent scholar and Alexis Aggrey, director, Afrofuturism: The Origin Story (2022,) are joining Kevin Strait, NMAAHC curator of Afro-Futurism: A History of Black Futures for a post-screening discussion that the NMAAHC Curator of Music and the Performing Arts will moderate.

View Livestream

https://youtu.be/XWl-u2AN478

Smithsonian National Education Summit July 27th - July 28th

July 18, 2022, 8:59 p.m.

VIDE, DPNR Launch 2nd Annual “I Am David Hamilton Jackson: Art for Activism” Project

The Virgin Islands Department of Education’s Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education (DVICE), in partnership with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources’s Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums (DLAM) announces the launch of the 2nd Annual “I am David Hamilton Jackson: Art for Activism” project, which invites students in grades 7-12 to use a variety of creative forms, including poems, monologues, original songs, Tik Toks, reels, and works of art, to depict how students see themselves embodying the life of David Hamilton Jackson today.

As part of “Art for Activism,” students will also learn that during the Danish empire and the American Naval Administration’s control of the Territory, Jackson was a leading supporter of the freedom of the press. He, along with his contemporaries in the labor rights movement, worked to provide workers with fair wages, a higher quality of life, and improve working conditions. In addition, students will learn the ways in which Jackson advocated for the civil liberties of Virgin Islanders of color and how he used his newspaper, The Herald, to organize, inform, and mobilize the community.\

News Article:

https://stcroixsource.com/2022/11/24/i-am-david-hamilton-jackson-student-art-show-opens-at-fort-frederik-saturday/

 

Collage by SCECHS National Art Honor Society member Isolde Diaz Belle, 9th grade. (Photo courtesy of art teacher Danica David)

“I Am David Hamilton Jackson” student art show opens at Fort Frederik. This project is the second offered to students in the U.S. Virgin Islands with a collaboration between the Virgin Islands Department of Education, Division of Cultural Education, and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums.

“The USVI has a long tradition of artists as activists, and Virgin Islands’ cultural production has historically served as a space of resistance,” DPNR, DLAM Territorial Chief Curator Monica Marin explained. “This annual project creates an opportunity for young Virgin Islanders to use their art to address the history of civil rights in the USVI critically and inspire dialogue around important social justice issues still impacting the territory today.”

Collage by SCECHS photography student Michael Peter, 12th grade. (Photo courtesy of art teacher Danica David)

Director of the Division of Cultural Education at the V.I. Department of Education Stephanie “Chalana” Brown added, “DPNR is providing the physical space for the project to be exhibited in person.”

“We [VIDE] are providing the archives for it,” said Brown. “Because of the Covid restrictions in 2021, the project was only online at the VIDE website. We are following in the fashion that we did last year. David Hamilton Jackson is just one of many of our Virgin Islanders that VIDE ensures our students gain more of a perspective of their contributions. The cultural education division makes sure all persons who put their energy into making the V.I. equitable for all V.I. leaders are celebrated. There will be a new 2022 archival link when all of the students’ artwork has been received by the Nov. 30 deadline. Both links, 2021 and 2022, and future links will be forever available on the VIDE website.”

Herald newspaper from Danish archives. (Photo courtesy of teacher Tralice Bracy)

​​​​According to Marin, the project combines research with storytelling and critical thinking. Students created a social justice collage to articulate why David Hamilton Jackson was so important in the fight for liberation and freedom. They were asked to use examples from their own lived experiences, drawing comparisons to David Hamilton Jackson’s work, in their own artistic responses.

Marin offered a PowerPoint presentation to art students at St. Mary’s Catholic School and the St. Croix Educational Complex High School. The presentation gave a background of David Hamilton Jackson and an introduction to collage art.

Collage created by St. Mary’s 7th-grade student D’Neia Herman. (Photo courtesy of teacher Tralice Bracy)

St. Mary’s 7th and 8th-grade art teacher Tralice Bracy said the project was a complex one for her students. They were given a comprehensive understanding of David Hamilton Jackson’s accomplishments, namely as publisher of the Herald newspaper. Then the class went online and pulled images of the Herald from the Danish archives.

According to Bracy, the students began to find articles of day-to-day living that included small news of social justice. They also found an article about St Mary’s School having a “Programme” on an evening in 1917. A few students chose to use some of the articles to include in their collage artwork. “As a teacher, to watch these 7th and 8th-graders synthesize all of the information, and then find a way to portray that information visually, was special,” Bracy said.

Collage created by St. Mary’s 8th-grade student Lamar Fleming. (Photo courtesy of teacher Tralice Bracy)

“Monica did a beautiful job of putting together the PowerPoint and introducing the students to Romare Bearden, a celebrated collage artist. She felt collage was a good way to bring colors and mixed media into their work where their voice could be ‘heard’ in each piece. In making their own tiny bulletin boards, they were able to see a different St. Croix unfold before them,” Bracy added.

SCECHS art teacher Danica David’s students in the National Art Honor Society and her photography class students participated in Marin’s PowerPoint presentation. Students learn about Virgin Islanders like David Hamilton Jacskon when they enter the elementary grades, and through middle and high school as a part of the VIDE curriculum, David noted.

Collage created by St. Mary’s 8th-grade student Meilene Henrys. (Photo courtesy of teacher Tralice Bracy)

“There are a few, maybe three, public domain images of Jackson, and I found it so amazing how the students used these similar images and created a beautiful, unique collage of their own,” David said. There is one of Jackson speaking in Denmark surrounded by a crowd of Danes and also the pictures of the Herald newspapers that are incorporated into their work, she observed.

David’s photography class students created digital collages and regular collages by cutting and pasting. “It was interesting how the project was a good break from the photography — a good hands-on — that they enjoyed. Some students worked during lunch. This was a social, emotional assignment for the photography students.”

Collage created by St. Mary’s 7th-grade student Gregory Bible. (Photo courtesy of teacher Tralice Bracy)

David said the students were so excited when they learned there was an opportunity for their work to be selected and showcased. “I found it was like art therapy. I saw the energy change in the classroom. It was different, exciting, and uplifting.”

David plans a field trip in December for the National Art Honor Society to visit Fort Frederik and view the artwork on display.

“It has been an absolute joy to work in collaboration with such brilliant educators — Danica David, Chalana Brown, and Tralice Bracy and their talented students,” Marin said. “I look forward to creating more projects at the intersection of Virgin Island’s history and the arts,”

“I would like to mention that the Division of VI Cultural Education is thankful to the students and teachers who participated in the project previously and currently,” Brown said.

“I Am David Hamilton Jackson” student art exhibit at Fort Frederik can be seen through January 2023. Museum hours are
Mon – Fri, 9 am to 4 pm.

For more information:

monica.marin@dpnr.vi.gov

www.vide.vi

https://goopenusvi.vide.vi/hubs/vihistory_cultural

 

Explore Virgin Islands Historic Spaces Challenge

March 10, 2022, 7:27 a.m.

Re-Dedication of Freedom Bust

 

On July 3, 2022, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and combinations of both commemorated the 173rd anniversary of the day on which all enslaved Africans in the then-Danish West Indies demanded their freedom through a carefully executed strategy that included plantation workers and leaders risking their lives. Bright Bimpong is the commissioned artist of the Freedom Bust, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of African slaves in the Danish West Indies. The statue is located in parks on St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John, as well as in Denmark, where it was last known to reside in the building of the Ministry of Culture. The statue depicts an Akwamu warrior holding a conch shell and a cutlass, two instruments that are used as Caribbean revolution symbols. When the copper bust sculpture of former colonial ruler King Christian Ix was removed from the Emancipation Garden in St. Thomas and replaced with the statue "Freedom," the Emancipation Park on St. Thomas became an important landmark in the contemporary history of the Virgin Islands. A bill sponsored by former Senator Myron Jackson, as well as the signatures of community members and the result of community activism, authorized the removal of King Christian IX's statue. Re-dedication of the Statue of Freedom at Emancipation Park was accompanied by song, poetry, and speeches, as well as conch shell blowers, community members, and elected officials reinforcing the park's new narratives.of

Celebrating Virgin Islands History Month 2022: "Step Into Heritage in Both Space and Mind"

March 8, 2022, 8:36 a.m.

EXPERIENCE  THE REMARKABLE TREES IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS CHALLENGE

Big Tree Challenge. #VIBigTreeChallenge.

Students are encouraged to contact their school librarian and request the book "Remarkable Big Trees in the United States Virgin Islands" in order to obtain coordinates for the island's largest trees. Alternatively, students can participate by tapping into community memory and locate and visit big trees in their surrounding neighborhoods. Ex. Baobob, Genip, Mango, Silk Tree, (Monkey don’t climb tree), Flamboyant, Calabash, Tambarind, Sanbox Tree.

Take a Photo and Post to Your Facebook or Instagram using Hashtag #virginislandshistorymonth and/or #VIBigTreeChallenge. Alternatively, you can email your submissions @stephanie.cbrown@vide.vi for a chance to win a prize.

People of the Caribbean in African American History: Nella Larsen

Feb. 3, 2022, 8:51 a.m.

As many of you are aware, Honorable Reverend Edward Blyden of the Virgin Islands spent a significant portion of his career in Liberia. This Black History Month, a free online webinar hosted by the Library of Congress, is scheduled for Wednesday, February 9th, at 1:00 p.m.
This webinar will be led by C. Patrick Burrowes, Ph.D. He was born in Liberia and is called "the people's professor" because of his willingness to share his deep knowledge of Liberian history freely with others. Before returning to Liberia in 2017, he was a tenured professor of communications and humanities at Penn State University. In August 2021, he uncovered a handwritten document missing since 1835 that sheds light on the 1821 purchase of land that became Monrovia, the capital city for the only United States colony in Africa. Burrowes says this is the most significant discovery of his career. This webinar does not require registration. To join the webinar, click here

https://loc.zoomgov.com/j/1615341825#success

Further info on Edward Wilmot Blyden

Edward Wilmot Blyden, widely regarded as the founder of Pan-Africanism, was born on August 3, 1832 in what are now the United States Virgin Islands. Blyden was born in Denmark's Danish West Indies to Free Black parents. Blyden studied with Rev. John P. Knox, the Dutch Reformed Church's pastor. Rev. Knox became Blyden's mentor after being impressed by his scholarly potential, and it was through him that Blyden decided to become a clergyman. Blyden traveled to the United States in May 1850 with Mrs. Knox, the clergyman's wife, to enroll at Rutgers' Theological College in New Jersey, but was denied admission due to his race.

Blyden's attention was drawn to Africa. Liberia gained independence as a West African nation in 1847. In 1850, Blyden accepted a teaching assignment in Liberia. Blyden began working at Alexander High School in Monrovia, Liberia, shortly after arriving in January 1851. Monrovia was founded on April 25, 1822, by members of the American Colonization Society (ACS), a group formed to repatriate former slaves born in the United States to Africa. There he began his studies of theology, the classics, geography, and mathematics on his own. Blyden was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and named principal of Alexander High School in 1858. Additionally, Liberian President Joseph Roberts appointed him editor of the Liberian Herald, the nation's sole newspaper at the time.

Blyden used scripture and science to refute the increasingly popular arguments about black inferiority in Europe and North America during this time period.

Read Blyden's original address, "Our Origin, Dangers, and Duties," delivered before the Mayor and Common Council of Monrovia, Liberia on July 26, 1865, the day of national independence.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t6xw59393&view=1up&seq=3

 

 

2022 Black History Month - People of the Caribbean and its Diaspora in African American History

Feb. 1, 2022, 9:16 a.m.

Honoring Four of Harlem’s Historic Voices

The United States Postal Service Honored Four Historic Harlem Voices and Celebrated Voices of the Harlem Renaissance in 2020. Two of the four individuals mentioned have Caribbean roots.

Nella Larsen addressed the complexities of mixed-race people's lives, as well as issues of identity and belonging, in two novels. Larsen, now widely regarded as one of the most significant novels of the Harlem Renaissance, questioned theory and practice, and her work continues to encourage interpretations from previously marginalized perspectives.

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, an avid bibliophile and self-taught historian, exemplified the contributions of persons of African heritage on a global scale. Schomburg rescued black history from obscurity and safeguarded important cultural knowledge for future generations by his zealous collection of books, records, artwork, and other resources.

The stamps depict stylized pastel portraits of the four recipients based on historic images. Each stamp features background components derived from African patterns. The design features demonstrate the Harlem Renaissance writers and artists' heightened interest in African culture, history, and aesthetics. Gary Kelley created the artwork for these stamps, which were designed by Greg Breeding.

Honoring Four of Harlem’s Historic Voices

People of the Caribbean in African American History: Arturo A. Schomburg

Feb. 1, 2022, 8:46 a.m.

Nella Larsen

Nella Larsen was born Nellie Walker in Chicago in 1891. Her father was a black laborer from the Danish West Indies today known as the Virgin Islands of the United States. Nella's mother was a white domestic worker from Denmark. Nella's father left her shortly after her birth. Her mother eventually married Peter Larsen, a Scandinavian, and they had a daughter. According to Nella Larsen's biographers, mixed families had a difficult time finding communities that welcomed them, even if Nella assumed her stepfather's name.

George Hutchinson, Nella Larsen's biographer, wrote best on Larsen's issue of being raised by a loving mother but also a white mother of European background who did not completely grasp the challenges of raising a black child in an American environment.

"that she had no entrée into the world of the blues or of the black church. If she could never be white like her mother and sister, neither could she ever be black in quite the same way that Langston Hughes and his characters were black. Hers was a netherworld, unrecognizable historically and too painful to dredge up."

Nella Larsen was raised in a Caucasian household and community. Larsen attended public schools in Chicago that were predominantly composed of German and Scandinavian families. So, it was not until 1907, when she moved from Chicago to Nashville to attend the Fisk Normal School, a teacher-training school connected with historically black Fisk University, that she encountered non-white faces. Larsen first saw an all-black student body at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1907. Fisk's president and board of trustees were both white, but the majority of its faculty were black. Women students were prohibited to leave campus without a chaperone, and new rules regarding women's clothing and jewelry were implemented. Larsen was reportedly expelled from Fisk a year later for failing to adhere to the school's dress and conduct codes.

Larsen enrolled shortly at the Lincoln School for Nurses in the Bronx, which was founded to recruit black women to the profession. After acquiring the equivalent of a registered nurse's degree, she was hired as a supervisor of nurses at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1915. Though Tuskegee's hospital was the finest in the black South at the time, the nurses were reported to lack professional standing, and Tuskegee's student nurses were utilized as a labor force to clean and launder the hospital's linens, as well as assist white doctors with their white patients. Nella returned to New York to join the nursing staff at Lincoln Hospital, where she earned her nursing certificate previously. In 1919, she married Elmer Imes, the second African-American to receive a doctorate in physics. Larsen and Imes became active in the 1920s, when the Harlem Renaissance began to take shape, with a community of black intellectuals that included W.E.B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes.

Larsen abandoned nursing to pursue a career as a librarian after seeing the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic in New York.

Larsen began her professional career in literature and art as a volunteer aiding with the preparation of the New York Public Library's first exhibition of African-American painters. She eventually enrolled in the library's teaching program and graduated as the institution's first black female graduate. Nella and her husband were familiar with the NAACP's leadership, which included prominent figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Walter White, and James Weldon Johnson. However, Larsen was excluded from the black upper class, which valued school and family ties, fraternities, and sororities, due to her low birth as an immigrant and blended race child, as well as her lack of a college degree.

Nella reportedly felt more at ease amid the interracial bohemia epitomized by her close friend Carl Van Vechten, a white writer and photographer whose controversial 1926 work "Nigger Heaven" she defended against black contemporaries who believed he had slandered the race by depicting Harlem life as a drunken orgy.

Nella Larsen was a part of a counter-narrative about the black experience, and because African Americans had been painted as uneducated and deceptive people up to that point, many black intellectuals and people of prominence despised narratives that cast the black community in any light other than the bubble of upright and supposedly venerable people.

Larsen, who had a reputation for being extremely private about her past and life, began to open up after meeting a group of educated, light-skinned, and ambitious black women who visited Greenwich Village, New York's bohemian hotspot, as often as Harlem.

In 1928, Nella Larsen released her debut novel, Quicksand. The tale followed a bi-racial woman as she battled to avoid being imprisoned by unstable social circumstances. In her second work, "Passing," published in 1929, she depicts the story of two women who grew up together but married different men: one white and one black. Both female protagonists have the appearance of being Caucasian. Nella Larsen's works have been resurrected most recently in the black-and-white drama picture Passing, which was released in 2021. The film is based on Nella Larsen's 1929 novel of the same name, with the title referring to African-Americans whose skin tone was light enough to pass for white, a condition known as "passing." The film elevated Nella's work as a definitive conversation point on race and economics in contemporary America, while also illustrating that competing narratives existed during the Harlem Renaissance but were suppressed due to their contradiction with the movements' ideologies. "Passing" is available on Netflix.

For years, Nella's writing received less attention than that of her contemporaries, but with the release of the film adaptation of her novel, more people are getting acquainted with the bohemian Harlem Renaissance author. Nella died of a heart attack in her apartment on March 30, 1964. She was 72 years old.

NPR Essay. 'Passing' — the original 1929 novel — is disturbingly brilliant

Classroom Resources. American Passages: A Literary Survey

Biography Notes. Nella Larsen, Author of Passing & Quicksand

Youtube Trailer. Passing | Official Trailer | Netflix

People of the Caribbean in African American History: Kwame Ture/ Stokely Carmichael

Jan. 26, 2022, 8:53 a.m.

People of the Caribbean and Its Diaspora in African American History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean people, notably Afro Caribbean individuals in the black equity movements, have long been a part of shaping the United States' social and intellectual advancement. This year, the Virgin Islands Department of Education's Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education is honoring eleven Afro Caribbean individuals who shaped the political and social environment of the United States. Arturo A Schomburg and Nella Larsen both have close ties to the Virgin Islands, having their parents originate in the Danish West Indies, also known as the Virgin Islands of the United States. Arturo A. Schomburg founded the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research library within the New York Public Library with a collection of over 11 million items. Additionally, Nella Larsen's works were recently resurrected in the black-and-white drama film Passing, which was released in 2021. The film is based on Nella Larsen's 1929 novel of the same name, and the title refers to African-Americans whose skin tone was light enough to be recognized as white, a condition known as "passing." The Division will include biographies of the following Caribbean activists, writers, entertainers, and visual artists throughout the month: Kwame Ture/Stokley Carmichael, Arturo A. Schomburg, Nella Larsen, Sidney Poitier, Marcus Garvey, Amanda Seales, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Grandmaster Flash, Edwidge Dandicat, and Roxanee Gay are all featured in the 2022 series.

 

 

African American History and Culture Museum Virtual Museum Tour

Jan. 25, 2022, 12:17 p.m.

Arturo A. Schomburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was born in January 10, 1874, in Santurce, Puerto Rico to Maria Josefa, a Black midwife from St. Croix, and Carlos Federico Schomburg, a merchant and son of a German immigrant to Puerto Rico. During Schomburg's elementary school years, one of his teachers asserted that Blacks lacked history, heroes, and accomplishments. Schomburg resolved to prove the teacher wrong by locating and documenting the accomplishments of Africans on their own continent and in the diaspora.

 In 1891, Schomburg relocated to New York City, New York. He was a leader in the Puerto Rican and Cuban liberation movements and formed Las dos Antillas, a cultural and political organization dedicated to the islands' independence. Schomburg, disillusioned by the failure of the Cuban revolutionary movement and the cession of Puerto Rico to the United States, shifted his focus to the African American community. Schomburg was a pivotal intellectual figure during the Harlem Renaissance, dedicated his life to promoting Black history.   

While Schomburg was able to obtain jobs that were previously unavailable to other Black people due to discrimination, he continued to face racism.  Schomburg held a variety of jobs, including elevator operator, printer, Spanish teacher, porter, and clerk at a law firm. Schomburg attended evening classes at Manhattan Central High School for a portion of his early years in New York.

Schomburg coined the term "afroborinqueno" while residing in Harlem to honor his African ancestry as a Latino. According to the Schomburg Center, a branch of the New York Public Library, black people faced severe discrimination in New York City in the 1890s and early 1900s. The center notes that they were "denied employment as longshoremen, street cleaners, baggage handlers, cement carriers, and garment workers."

Schomburg's essay "The Negro Digs Up His Past" appeared in a Survey Graphic special issue. The journal emphasized sociological and political research and analysis of national and international issues. Schomburg promoted African-American writers' artistic endeavors through the publication. Later in the year, the essay was included in Alain Locke's anthology "The New Negro." Schomburg's essay influenced a large number of African-Americans to begin researching their ancestors. Schomburg wrote in it that "Black people must delve deeply into their own history in order to affirm their identity in the face of persistent oppression."

Schomburg's collection of literature, art and other artifacts was purchased by the New York Public Library for $10,000 in 1926. Schomburg was appointed curator of the Schomburg Collection of African-American Literature and Art at the New York Public Library's 135th Street branch. Schomburg used the proceeds from the sale of his collection to expand the collection by traveling to Spain, France, Germany, England, and Cuba to acquire additional artifacts of African history. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is now one of the foremost research libraries devoted to the African diaspora. 

Schomburg was also named curator of the Negro Collection at Fisk University's library, in addition to his position at the New York Public Library. When Schomburg began building the library in 1929, Thomas E. Jones was president of Fisk in Nashville, Tennessee. He collaborated with his close friend, sociologist Charles S. Johnson, to repeat his work in New York by establishing a black archive in Fisk University's Cravath Hall, complete with a reading room. According to researchers, at the period, black students were encouraged to attend trade schools rather than read for leisure. Fisk established a reading room for Schomburg's students in order to "instill a desire" for leisure reading.

The whole Black history collection of the New York Public Library was designated the Schomburg Collection in 1940. The library's 135th Street branch was renamed the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in 1972. The Center is home to 10 million items.

Resources:

Reading. Antillano, Negro, and Puerto Rican in New York 1891-1938: 

Podcast. In to America: Harlem On My Mind: Arturo Schomburg

Essay. The Negro Digs Up His Past (1925)

Podcast. Harlem on My Mind: Arturo Schomburg | Into America Podcast – Ep. 101 | MSNBC

Common Core Classroom Discussion. Discussion Questions

 

 

 

Art for Activism Project: "I Am David Hamilton Jackson" Online Student Exhibit

Jan. 12, 2022, 12:19 p.m.

Stokely Carmichael

Information collected from History.com and “Stokely: A Life,” by historian Peniel E. Joseph 

Kwame Ture/ Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael was a civil rights leader in the United States who coined the rallying cry for Black nationalism, "Black Power," in the 1960s. He arrived in New York City in 1952, having been born in Trinidad. He joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while a student at Howard University and was arrested for his involvement with the Freedom Riders. He departed from MLK Jr.'s approach to self-defense, which was nonviolent.

Stokely Carmichael was only nineteen years old when he took part in the 1961 Freedom Rides; he became the youngest person ever imprisoned for his participation when he was jailed attempting to integrate a "whites only" cafeteria in Jackson, Mississippi.

Stokely Carmichael became an American citizen in 1954 when he was 13 years old, and his family relocated to Morris Park in the Bronx, a primarily Italian and Jewish neighborhood. Carmichael quickly rose to prominence as the only Black member of the Morris Park Dukes street gang. In 1956, he passed the admissions test to the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, where he met a completely new social group—the offspring of New York City's wealthy white liberal elite. Carmichael was well-liked by his new classmates; he frequently attended parties and dating white women. He was, however, acutely aware of the racial distinctions that separated him from his classmates even at that young age. Carmichael subsequently reflected on his high school friendships, saying, "Now that I see how phony they all were, how much I despise myself for it." With these cats, being liberal was a game of intellect. "They were still white, and I was Black.”

Although Carmichael had been aware of the American civil rights battle for years, it wasn't until he saw images of a sit-in on television toward the end of high school that he felt motivated to join the struggle. "When I first heard about the Negroes sitting in at lunch counters down South,” he later recalled, “I thought they were just a bunch of publicity hounds. But one night when I saw those young kids on TV, getting back up on the lunch counter stools after being knocked off them, sugar in their eyes, ketchup in their hair—well, something happened to me. Suddenly I was burning. " He joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), picketed a New York Woolworth's store, and traveled to Virginia and South Carolina sit-ins.

After graduating from high school in 1960, Carmichael was offered scholarships to a range of elite primarily white universities. He instead elected to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., which has a predominantly Black student body. He majored in philosophy at the university, where he studied the writings of Camus, Sartre, and Santayana, as well as ways to apply their theoretical frameworks to the civil rights movement's problems. Simultaneously, Carmichael increased his involvement with the movement as a whole. He embarked on his first Freedom Ride as a freshman in 1961, an integrated bus journey through the South to protest interstate travel segregation. He was caught in Jackson, Mississippi, during that trip and imprisoned for 49 days for entering the "whites only" bus stop waiting area. Carmichael persisted in his activism throughout his undergraduate years, taking part in another Freedom Ride in Maryland, a demonstration in Georgia, and a hospital workers' strike in New York. In 1964, he earned an honors degree from Howard University. Carmichael dropped out of school during a pivotal time in the civil rights movement's history. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) called 1964's summer "Freedom Summer," launching an aggressive voter registration campaign in the Deep South. Carmichael joined SNCC as a recent college graduate, quickly advancing to the position of field organizer for Lowndes County, Alabama, by his eloquence and natural leadership abilities. When Carmichael moved to Lowndes County in 1965, African Americans were the majority of the population but were completely unrepresented in government. Carmichael increased the number of registered Black voters in the county from 70 to 2,600 in one year, 300 more than the registered white voters.

Carmichael created the Lowndes County Freedom Organization after being dissatisfied with the responses of either of the main political parties to his registration efforts. To comply with a requirement that all political parties have an official logo, he chose a Black panther, which eventually inspired the Black Panthers (another Black activist movement created in Oakland, California).

Carmichael committed at this point in his life to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s ideology of peaceful resistance. Along with moral objection to violence, proponents of nonviolent resistance felt that the method would increase public support for civil rights by establishing a stark contrast—captured on nightly television—between the peaceful protestors and the police and hecklers opposing them. Carmichael, like many other young activists, got dissatisfied with the slow pace of change and with having to undergo repeated acts of violence and humiliation at the hands of white police officers.

By the time Carmichael was chosen national head of the SNCC in May 1966, he had essentially abandoned the idea of peaceful resistance to which he — and SNCC — had formerly subscribed. As chairman, he steered the SNCC in a rather radical direction, signaling that white members, who had been actively recruited, were no longer welcome. Carmichael's term as chairman — and arguably his life — was defined barely weeks after he assumed leadership of the organization. In June 1966, James Meredith, a civil rights activist and the University of Mississippi's first Black student, began on a solitary "Walk Against Fear" from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. Meredith was shot and rendered unable of continuing around 20 miles into Mississippi. Carmichael determined that SNCC volunteers should continue the march in his stead, and upon reaching Greenwood, Mississippi, on June 16, a furious Carmichael delivered the address for which he would be most remembered. "For six years, we've been chanting 'liberty,'" he explained. "From now on, we will refer to ourselves as 'Black Power.'"

The term "Black power" soon gained popularity as a rallying cry for a younger, more militant generation of civil rights workers. Internationally, the term gained currency as a rallying cry against the European colonization of Africa. Carmichael defined Black power in 1968 in his book Black Power: The Politics of Liberation: "It is a call for Black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for Black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations. "

Carmichael's embrace of black power also marked a departure from King's nonviolent approach and its ultimate objective of racial integration. Rather than that, he identified the phrase with Malcolm X's philosophy of Black separatism. "When you talk of Black power, you talk of building a movement that will smash everything Western civilization has created," Carmichael stated in one address. Unsurprisingly, the shift to Black power was divisive, instilling dread in many white Americans, even those previously sympathetic to the civil rights movement, and deepening divisions within the movement between elder proponents of nonviolence and younger separatists. Martin Luther King referred to Black power as "an unfortunate choice of words."

In 1967, Carmichael embarked on a life-changing journey, visiting revolutionary leaders in Cuba, North Vietnam, China, and Guinea. He resigned from the SNCC and became Prime Minister of the more radical Black Panthers upon his return to the United States. He then spent the next two years traveling the country and publishing writings on Black nationalism, Black separatism, and, increasingly, pan-Africanism, the latter of which became Carmichael's life cause. Carmichael left the Black Panthers and relocated to Conakry, Guinea, in 1969, dedicating his life to the cause of pan-African unification. "America does not belong to Black people," he stated as his reason for leaving the country. Carmichael changed his name to Kwame Toure in honor of two controversial African leaders, Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah and Guinea's Sekou.

Miriam Makeba, a South African singer, married Carmichael in 1968. He later married Marlyatou Barry, a Guinean physician, following their divorce. Carmichael spent the remainder of his life in Guinea, despite numerous journeys to the United States to espouse pan-Africanism as the only true way to liberation for Black people worldwide. Prostate cancer was diagnosed in 1985 for Carmichael.  According to historian Peniel E. Joseph, Ture has received less attention than some other civil rights leaders, largely because he went to Africa and was not martyred like Dr. King and Malcolm X, both killed at 39.  Mr. Joseph said in an online publication that the complexity of Ture “makes him a difficult subject."

Resource:

Critical Thinking:  "Stokely: A Life" - A Conversation Between Peniel Joseph and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 

Document. What We Want - Kwame Touré (Stokely Carmichael) Speech

Discussion. https://teachingamericanhistory.org/document/black-power/

Youtube News Report. What's in a Name? ft. Kwame Ture (1989)

Youtube Interview. Eyes on the Prize: Kwame Ture Interview (1986)

Reading. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/stokely-carmichael

Audio. 4 Minute Listen: Stokely Carmichael, A Philosopher Behind The Black Power Movement 

PBS News Report. Beyond ‘Black Power,’ recounting the under-told story of Stokely Carmichael

Recognize labor unions and Dr. Martin Luther King's pro-union advocacy.

Jan. 12, 2022, 12:08 p.m.

Smithsonian - 

 African American History and Culture Museum

Community + Conversation with a Docent, Creative Griots

Wednesday, February 2 | 3 – 4:30 p.m.

Virtual visitors have an opportunity to engage in a conversational journey with a museum docent.  You’ll discover how identity, politics, and creativity are articulated through African American performance, music, cultural expressions, and the visual arts. We will explore the ways African Americans have harnessed these elements to fuel social change while creating a vibrant culture that extends to the African Diaspora.

Our virtual guided programs are a wonderful way for adults and college students to enjoy the museum from home, in the office or at school and to participate in a fun and interactive learning environment. Using the online meeting platform Zoom, participants can examine and respond to objects in the museum. To participate in this program, you must have access to a device with Zoom capabilities (including a microphone, speaker, and camera) and a reliable internet connection.

Exhibition Experience:  Visual Arts

 

Sponsor:African American History and Culture Museum
Venue:African American History and Culture Museum
Event Location:Online
Cost:This program is free for participants. Registration is required as space is limited to 50 guests.
Get Tickets or Register:https://smithsonian.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_l_3j8LIeSJSRtKPZY65opw

David Hamilton Jackson Month - "Do My People Do"

Nov. 23, 2021, 10:51 a.m.

View Student Exhibit

Students have the opportunity to envision themselves as social justice warriors and to embody the spirit of Virgin Islands leader and activist David Hamilton Jackson through various mediums of art.

I Am David Hamilton Jackson Art for Activism Student Montage

 

We are ecstatic and grateful for your recent participation in the “I Am David Hamilton Jackson- Art for Activism Project.” Your creativity showed that you were able to draw on the experiences of David Hamilton Jackson to develop your own perspectives and understanding of how to challenge social injustices through academic work and art. This Art for Activism project is a collaboration between the Virgin Islands Department of Education – Division of Virgin Islands Cultural Education and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources- Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums.

David Hamilton Jackson was a valiant defender of equity, who fought for a free press, better-working and living conditions, and constitutional rights in the U.S. Virgin Islands during the territory's United States naval rule. Mr. Jackson and many of his peers, who were also labor leaders, laid the groundwork for other labor movements in the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean.

We hope that your participation in the "I Am David Hamilton Jackson- Art for Activism Project" has inspired you to take action to improve your community and the world. Your work is displayed on the front page of the Virgin Islands Department of Education's website, www.vide.vi, as part of the online "Art for Activism" exhibit. The DLAM at DPNR compiled a video of student visual art works and displayed it as part of the DLAM's Christmas pop-up on Sunday, December 19th. Both DVICE and DLAM will screen the video once more during Youth Art Week in March at the Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism Building