ST. CROSS – In its first large-scale activity since the pandemic, the Grove Place Action Committee is preparing to hold its annual Freedom Day celebration to commemorate the life and legacy of David Hamilton Jackson.
The day is celebrated annually on November 1, a local holiday, and is also known as D. Hamilton Jackson Day. . Raymond Williams, event coordinator, said the festivities will begin with a 1 p.m. ceremony at Estate Grove Place park named in Jackson’s honor. In 2020 the celebration was moved to a pre-recorded virtual event and last year it was a limited invitation event at Government House which was broadcast via radio and social media platforms.
Born in 1884, Jackson was known as a powerful labor leader, banker and community activist who published The Herald, the first newspaper in the Danish West Indies at the time that did not bear the seal of the Danish government. In 1915, Jackson traveled to Denmark to fight for the revocation of a royal edict banning private newspapers. That year, after winning that battle, the first issue was published. In honor of the publication, a bull was slaughtered and roasted, and roast beef and bread were offered to the public to celebrate the great accomplishment.
Jackson then organized the first trade union in the Danish West Indies, which led to the end of violent uprisings and the start of organized protests. Since November 1, 1927 – when he delivered one of his most powerful labor speeches – Freedom Day has been a public holiday, celebrated with the traditional holiday.
In gubernatorial elections, Liberty Day festivities serve as a traditional campaign rally in the final round before Election Day, which is Nov. 8 this year. Candidates and their supporters – usually dressed in t-shirts and soliciting votes – are expected to be among the crowds packing the streets for the event.
Williams couldn’t contain the excitement of the day.
“We’ve been out of Grove for two years and that’s where it all started, so we’re delighted and grateful that the restrictions are lifted, things are back to normal and we can return to Mecca,” he said. he declares. “Our ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. and we are looking forward to a large crowd and a great presentation.”
The official ceremony will include remarks from Williams, as well as legislative, congressional and governor dignitaries.
Tuesday’s guest speaker is Jelyn M’Kaejah Bailey, a 16-year-old student from St. Croix Educational Complex who will share her perspective on press freedom.
Williams said committee members were busy preparing the beef that will be roasted as part of the traditional meal.
“In non-election years we cook about 200 pounds of beef, in an election year we have a higher turnout so we usually double that, but it’s a big election and the energy in the community and all over the territory is high, we are preparing 650 pounds of beef for the festivities,” Williams said.
The beef will be served with baked potato stuffing, gravy and rolls or titi bread, as well as the traditional citrus drink taddy – all for free.
“Year after year, as we continue to bring this very important event to life, I hope that when people go out they will take the time to not only reflect on the day as a holiday, but reflect on the importance of D .Hamilton Jackson and other stalwarts,” Williams said. “They laid the groundwork and gave us freedom of the press, the right to vote and the freedom to say what we think. We should reflect on their teachings and magnify and build on these things.
Entertainment for the day – and all night – will be provided by Hartatak Band.