Home Community Miscellaneous REZENDE TO SPEAK ON 'FREE GUT' IN ST. THOMAS



Feb. 18, 2002 – Educator and writer Elizabeth Rezende will speak at the V.I. Cultural Heritage Institute on St. Thomas Thursday about Free Gut, a free-black community on St. Croix founded long before the emancipation of slaves in the Danish West Indies.
The public is invited to the 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, presentation at the Institute in downtown Charlotte Amalie, No. 5-6 Kongens Gade ("Education Street"). Call 774-9537 for information.
In the social stratification of the Danish West Indies, explains a release from the Institute, existed a class of freed or free-born black and mixed-race persons called at that time "free coloured." They had gained their freedom through self-purchase, manumission, or by birth to free parents.
They had fewer social and economic rights than the white European residents, but more than the slaves. Their privileges, opportunities, restrictions and limitations are explained in detail in Isaak Dookhan's book, "A History of the Virgin Islands of the United States."
The communities were more prominent and more active on St. Croix, Doohkan said, because St. Thomas, a major commercial and trade center, had fewer economic problems.
In a 1775 proclamation, for example, free-blacks were forbidden to bear the name of the master who granted their freedom, which had been the custom to that time. And they were not permitted to build houses in town center, but were restricted to a free-black neighborhood communities, such as the one known as Free Gut, or Free Gutt, as Florence Lewisohn termed it in her history, "St. Croix Under Seven Flags."
Rezende will speak on Free Gut, a representative free-black neighborhood. These communities played a major role in advancing the economic, social and political rights of black Virgin Islands, said the release, and Rezende will speak on the birth, growth and significance of Free Gut.


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