Members of the Committee on Culture, Historic Preservation and Aging, in collaboration with the Office of the Senate President, invites the public to attend the program “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” at 10 a.m., on Friday, July 5, at the Capitol Building. The celebration represents the International Decade of People of African Descent. It is also a part of the observance of the Virgin Islands Emancipation and Freedom Week.
“It is fitting that the Legislature is hosting this celebration of ‘The Year of the Return – Ghana’ in the same week that the territory celebrates our Emancipation. Our ties to Ghana are strong and evident in our cultural traditions, families and shared histories,” said Senate President Novelle Francis. “Our history as enslaved people and as victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade do not define us as a people. What defines us is our unity and resiliency. On behalf of the members of the 33rd Legislature, I am honored to welcome one and all to this celebration of our culture, history and heritage.”
Senate Vice President Myron Jackson also shared his thoughts. “Globally people of African descent are reflecting on the impacts of slavery and reclaiming our freedom in a wholistic sense,” Sen. Jackson said. “As we observe Freedom Week in the Virgin Islands, we are also reminded of our 250 years of enslavement and colonization under Denmark, and the need for repair from this longstanding trauma. ‘The Year of Return: Ghana 2019’ calls on us to embrace our rich and deep-rooted heritage and to cultivate the reconnection so necessary to our healing. This is the spirit in which this program is held, and we invite the public to come out and join in it.”
Alex Quayson-Sackey, a relative of the first African to serve as President of the United Nations General Assembly; Myron Allick, a representative of the Sackey family; and Lawrence Sewer, a representative of the Sowah family are guest presenters at the event. Also included on the program are Black Power Theatre, Anna Francis, Delroy “Ital” Anthony, and Earth Mamas Pan African Dance Company.
The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” is a journey signifying birthright and spirituality. The celebration marks 400 years of the arrival of the first African slaves who were forcibly brought from Africa to Jamestown, Virginia, and all the Africans who were kidnapped and sold in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
On July 3, 1848, slavery was abolished in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This year marks the 171st Anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved people. In commemoration of this historic event, the 32nd Legislature officially made the week of June 26 – July 3 the “Virgin Islands Freedom Week.”
In 2017, the Legislature passed Resolution No. 1838 (Bill No. 31-0079) petitioning the Governor of the Virgin Islands to join with the Legislature to develop a comprehensive program focused on education and awareness of the contributions of people of African descent throughout the Caribbean.