Jan. 20, 2003 – Several hundred people gathered Monday on St. Croix to keep the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. alive. And as the afternoon progressed, a message of peace, unity and equality — directed primarily at the territory's youth — became increasingly clear.
The Central Labor Council-sponsored event drew people of all colors and nationalities for a march from Sion Farm and a rally at Island Center.
Organizer Naomi Joseph said keeping King's memory, ideologies and philosophies alive is most important, especially from a labor point of view.
King's last role as an activist, before being assassinated, was to attend a rally for the rights of sanitation workers in Tennessee.
Joseph said much of Monday's program involved youth groups and school children because they will have the task of spreading King's message. "They're going to take over when we drop off. So tomorrow, when we're old and decrepit, they can manage to keep it going," she said.
The program included songs by several school choral groups, a rendition of King's "I Have A Dream" speech and orations by several Virgin Islands notables.
Ten-year-old Verlyn Augustin said King should be looked up to for his fight for the rights of black people, and his peaceful message should be remembered.
"There's too much war between black and white people," Verlyn said. "People need to come together as a community."
Terrence Nelson, in the public spotlight recently for his leadership in peaceful protests against the high salary increases public officials had voted themselves, said an economic divide, rather than a racial one, is the most prevalent form of oppression in the Virgin Islands today.
"The irony is, the oppression today is actually being perpetuated by our own," Nelson, the head of Our Virgin Islands Labor Union, said. He said he is sure that Dr. King "would agree that we must press on until the poor people in the Virgin Islands can have a decent meal and a proper education."
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.