Jan. 17, 2005 The gathering at the Ital Ase Botanica and Wedding Services store Monday afternoon was small, but the few who came did so to honor and remember the life and contributions of the late Martin Luther King Jr.
As the evening on the official Martin Luther King Day drew closer, members of a local Pan-African group and a team of youngsters, the Environmental Rangers, gathered together to watch a documentary on the life of the slain civil rights leader.
They were intent as they viewed King's role in suffrage movements for Blacks and his role in the Montgomery (Alabama) Bus Boycott. Tears welled up in the eyes of some as they viewed his assassination.
After watching the documentary, the group discussed King's actions and slavery, among other topics. The youngsters in the audience were also quizzed on the video and were taught the importance of standing up for their rights through various re-enactments.
"I almost cried looking at this video," Alcedo J. Francis, who directs the Environmental Rangers, said. "I have witnessed many of these things. It was real for me."
Francis told the young children of his experiences with racism in the United States.
Akim Chinnery, Pan-Africanist, addressing the young people, said, "When you see brothers like this who have walked the earth, then you see love."
Chinnery told them it takes love to do the things that King did for his people.
Anna Francis, wife of Alcedo Francis, said it's sad that not enough is done locally on Martin Luther King Day.
"We need to have more activities on this day," Anna Francis said, adding that as adults "we do not teach our children enough about the past and the great leaders who contributed to our society."
Anna Francis said, like King, all human beings are fighting for something. While King's fight may have been for equality, she said, here in the Virgin Islands "we have a serious economic and political fight."
Stephen "Smokey" Frett said the territory's children are not being taught to stand up and fight for their rights. He told the children the fight need not be violent, but rather like King preached, "a non-violent fight."
Winston Cartier, 15, said he enjoyed looking at the video.
"I just think that Martin Luther King had the courage to stand up for us because he cared for us," Cartier said. "We should now stand up for ourselves."
Odari Thomas, 14, said the video was educational.
He added, "We need to learn about how our ancestors suffered for us in order to give us the rights we have presently."
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