St. Croix will celebrate the 164th anniversary of the July 3, 1848, Emancipation in the territory all day Tuesday, beginning with a 5 a.m. walk from Fort Christiansvaern in Christiansted to Fort Frederik in Frederiksted.
Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson, who leads the march every year , said this will be the 11th year the event has been held. The senator said everyone is invited, participants don't have to be of African descent.
“Many people find it a spiritual event," Nelson said, announcing the annual walk during recent senate hearings.
The walk leaves Fort Christianvaern at 5 a.m. It is a long, slow walk, so those who arrive after 5 a.m. can join the procession along the way. The walkers cover the 14.6 miles between the two forts in about five and a half hours, he said. People can join the throng anywhere along the route, he said.
There will be a ceremony and festivities in Frederiksted after the walk.
Emancipation was brought about by the St. Croix slave rebellion of 1848, some 11 years before the U.S. emancipation. The revolt was lead by Moses "Gen. Buddhoe" Gottlieb, an enslaved African and master sugar boiler who could travel from plantation to plantation.
Despite the many deprivations and restrictions on him as a slave on St. Croix, Buddhoe was highly literate and well- read in world affairs. That same year, populist revolutions swept across much of Europe, and Buddhoe may have considered himself a part of that widespread movement, although the record is incomplete and the evidence circumstantial.
Prompted by the takeover of Fort Frederik, the military stronghold in St. Croix, and threats by the enslaved Africans to "burn down the town of Frederiksted," Gov. General Peter Von Scholten reluctantly made the proclamation "from this day onward all unfree in the Danish West Indies are free."
Wednesday, St. Croix will celebrate a different sort of freedom – the July 4th commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There will be a sand castle contest; a children's craft building workshop, a bikini contest and of course fireworks. See related links below for full details.