Oct. 31, 2005 Celebrating the territorys elders will be the focus of the annual David Hamilton Jackson celebrations in Estate Grove Place on Nov. 1.
The Grove Place Action committee is honoring four of the community's oldest residents as part of the day's activities.
"These four elders have close to 400 years of history," Raymond Williams, committee president said on Monday.
The honorees include Agatha "Miss Gaty" Mills, Orah Hendricks Schrader, George Rawlin and Miriam White King.
Williams said the honorees are all between the ages of 90 and 98 years old. Their biographies will be read at the ceremony and plaques will be presented to them. Additionally, there will be presentations, through speeches, songs and dance interpretations honoring the life and times of Jackson.
Jackson was born in Estate Hill, St Croix, on Sept. 28, 1884. Both of his parents were educated, and Jackson attended East Hill School, where his father was the principal. He worked as a bookkeeper at a business owned by James C. Canegata and was known as a community activist.
In 1913, with the help of Ralph Bough, Jackson organized the first labor union. Men, women and children on St. Croix were working in cane fields from dawn until dusk for 10 and 20 cents a day. The labor movement later included St. Thomas where the majority of the population was working as coal porters employed by the West India Company. They earned one dollar or more a day.
The union allowed the laborers on both islands to abandon physical uprisings for better working conditions in favor of organized protests.
Because of his knowledge and oratorical skills Hamilton was selected to go to Denmark and make a plea to remove the censorship of newspapers in the then Danish West Indies. He fought and won his case before King Christian X, and in 1915 established the territory's first free press, The Herald.
The Danish government gradually realized that governance over its only colonies was becoming increasingly cumbersome. The Danes entered into negotiations to transfer the Virgin Islands to the United States of America. Jackson led the way in gaining support for the 1917 transfer.
Events in Estate Grove Place on St. Croix begin at noon and continue until well after dusk. Gov. Charles W. Turnbull is one of the speakers; however, Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards and Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen will be out of the territory and cannot attend. Williams said the two seldom miss the Jackson celebration.
Tourism Commissioner Pamela C. Richards will make a presentation combining the observance of Caribbean Tourism Day, which is celebrated on the first Tuesday in November, with the Jackson activities.
Williams said during the day the line-up of entertainment will include presentations from the Eulalie Rivera Professional Development School and display booths from WAPA and the energy office. Vendors will line the outskirts of the village circle selling a variety of local foods, drinks and desserts.
Government offices and schools will be closed territorywide in observance of the holiday.
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