A People's Historical Journey to Self Determination & Decolonization

The Ay Ay Islands, (f.k.a.) The Danish West Indies, (n.k.a.) Virgin Islands of the United States

Freedom Week June 26, 2021 to July 3, 2021

1 V.I.C. § 197a Virgin Islands Freedom Week

The dates of June 26th through July 3rd of each year shall be observed as “Freedom Week” in the Virgin Islands to commemorate the emancipation of the enslaved persons in the Danish West Indies, now the Virgin Islands of the United States, and any other freedom struggles of oppressed people that are ideologically consistent therewith. Public ceremonies and programs recognizing and honoring Virgin Islands heroes shall be held throughout the Territory and on WTJX channel 12, the Public Television Station in the Virgin Islands.

(a) At least fifteen (15) days prior to “Freedom Week”, the Governor shall issue a proclamation calling upon all residents to join in appropriate ceremonies to reflect upon our ancestors’ struggles.
(b) The Governor shall appoint a committee each year to coordinate with Virgin Islands-based organizations and other interested community groups and develop appropriate plans, programs, marketing initiatives and ceremonies for the commemoration, memorialization and celebration of Virgin Islands Freedom Week throughout the Virgin Islands and our Caribbean sister/brother islands.

(c) The Legislature on Emancipation Day in alliance with Virgin Islands-based governmental/nongovernmental organizations shall hold appropriate and official ceremonies on St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas highlighting the historical narratives of freedom, liberation, self-determination and emancipation of the people, history, and culture of the Virgin Islands.

(d) The Commissioner of Education shall be responsible for organizing and publicizing events throughout public schools to celebrate, acknowledge and commemorate history, culture, heroes, heroines, and more for Virgin Islands Freedom Week.
(e) The Commissioner of Tourism shall be responsible for organizing and publicizing events throughout the Virgin Islands and abroad to commemorate, celebrate, acknowledge and promote Virgin Islands Freedom Week.


The Liberation of the Enslaved People of the Danish West Indies

On July 2, 1848, the enslaved inhabitants of the Danish West Indies liberated themselves from the brutality of the Danish system of slavery. The enslaved people gave Governor Peter von Scholten a 4 p.m. deadline to liberate them. After seeing more than 8,000 enslaved people gathered and silently awaiting his decision, he knew any refusal or delay would mean destruction of the towns and plantations and many would be killed. He had no choice and declared, "Alle unfrie paa de Danske Vestindiske oer ere fra dags dato frigivne." "All unfree in the Danish West Indies are from today free." This resulted in the Emancipation Proclamation issued by then Governor Peter Von Scholten on July 3, 1848.