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Folklife Festival Marks Black History Month

Feb. 10, 2009 – The 18th annual Folklife Festival commemorating Black History Month will run Feb. 19 through 21 at Annaberg Plantation. Times are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 19 and 21 and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 21. Admission is free.
The theme is V.I. Culture: 276 Years Towards Self Determination. The number of year refers to the 1733 slave rebellion, an event that began 276 years ago at Fortsberg near Coral Bay.
"It's an attempt to teach children and adults who we are," V.I. National Park Ranger Denise Georges said.
While the first two days are geared towards students and the entire community attending on the third evening, Georges said everyone is welcome any day.
She asked that school groups not yet registered to attend call her to arrange for complimentary transportation from Cruz Bay to Annaberg and lunch provided by the Education Department.
Local artists and craftsman will sell their wares. They include Bridget Julius selling magnets and postcards, Alton Evans with his jewelry made of local seeds, Gwen Harley and Esther Frett with hand-crafted dolls, Justin Todman with brooms, and Elizabeth Aubain selling mats and bags made of ribbon and straw. Herbalist Elimar Farrell will also be on hand.
Additionally, Theresa Brown and Jane Johannes will sell snacks and drinks.
The Folklife Festival also features discussions and performances by a variety of people.
"The discussions will focus on the historical challenges and accomplishments endured and experienced on all three islands," Georges said.
They will center on the coal carrier strikes of early 1900s, mass meetings during the 1917 to 1927 naval years, and migration off island during the 1920s and 1950s.
"They had to leave. There was nothing here," Georges said.
Speakers include author Eddie Donoghue, author and attorney Tregenza Roach, author, educator and historian Gilbert Sprauve, and historian Myron Jackson.
The Folklife Festival includes mocko jumbie performances by Willard John's Mockolution, which portrays a spiritual journey in Africa at a time when mocko jumbies were revered as guardians who chased away evil spirits. Additionally, performances also include folklore songs by Eugene Petersen and Cariso singing by Cebelle Christopher. The St. Thomas Heritage Dancers, Smalls and the Music Makers and Stanley and the 10 Sleepless Knights will perform.
The park sponsors the event along with the Friends of the Park, the local government, the St. John Community Foundation, the V.I. Council on the Arts, and other community sponsors. It is also funded in part by a grant from the V. I. Humanities Council.

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