Home News Local news Liberty Day Celebrants Flock to Grove Place

Liberty Day Celebrants Flock to Grove Place

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Nov. 2, 2006 — "Welcome to the mecca of St. Croix," bellowed Grove Place Action Committee (GPAC) President Raymond Williams, as the West End village swelled with visitors Wednesday eager to celebrate Liberty Day and the legacy of David Hamilton Jackson.
Candidates, public officials, native "Grovians" and visitors to the island mingled, ate, danced and "politicked" from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. The day was warm and breezy, and although sweat beaded from the brows of many onlookers, residents and visitors gathered peacefully to celebrate freedom: freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom from oppression.
Williams began his opening by addressing the robbery attempt on the owner of the Drive-In in Grove place. "My heart is throbbing today," he said. Although pleased with the turnout and the positive events of the day, Williams expressed anger at those who would invade the village and attack one of its own. "I take exception to the violence that occurred here on Thursday," he said.
Others said Jackson would have been proud to see his vision on labor relations being met. While past Liberty Day celebrations have been disrupted by labor protests, that wasn't the case with Wednesday's opening parade, which included only beautiful majorettes, straight-backed Junior ROTC members and vote-seeking candidates and their supporters.
Senate President Lorraine L. Berry told the crowd, "D. Hamilton Jackson would be pleased about the progress we have made in labor relations." Berry spoke on the actions of the 26th Legislature in aiding retirees, veterans, and labor unions.
According to Williams, the day was a success. "I feel wonderful," he said. Williams estimated more than 800 people had come to Grove and noted 400 had come over from St. Thomas to witness the day.
Williams encouraged everyone to call the day Liberty or D. Hamilton Jackson Day and to make the traditional "bull and bread" a secondary title. "Bull and bread is a misnomer," he said. The serving of meat and buns on the day was a celebration for the planters prior to giving them messages to deliver to other planters on the island, said Williams. "I want people to embrace D. Hamilton Jackson because that is the essence of what we celebrate today." Williams said Jackson is a hero amongst many others and to celebrate the day as "bull and bread" can take away from Jackson's message.
But don't get Williams wrong. There was still the traditional serving of bull, bread and toddies.
Most attendees were not concerned about the bull or bread. Each one had different reasons to be there.
Evelyn M. Williams Kindergarten teacher Valarie Peters said she came to the festivities for her son. "I came out for him to have some fun today."
Rashidi Clenence, better known to many as "Rash on the Radio," came to the event for the food. "Specifically for the blue medal-winning kallaloo," he said. Cousins Jemel, Ciara and Kendra came to the event hoping to see their friends. "We can't wait until Stroka Band plays," the girls said together.
Observers of the speeches, plays and songs said the day was calmer. "Today the crowd is more subtle," said local roots culture performer Nyingro. "It's more cultural today, we seem to be losing our culture." Native Grovian Charles Brow called the day "blessed" because there was no rain to spoil anyone's enjoyment.
GPAC had a line up of entertainment ranging from award-winning Eulalie Rivera School students to a re-enactment of D. Hamilton Jackson's journey by Generation Now, Inc.
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