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Tuesday, June 6, 2023
HomeNewsArchives21 Young Artists Featured in Book on V.I. March

21 Young Artists Featured in Book on V.I. March

The cover of 'See the Virgin Islands March.'First lady Cecile deJongh will distribute a book featuring the work of 21 young Virgin Islands artists around the holidays.

The book, “See the Virgin Islands March,” will be presented to all of the territory’s children in grades kindergarten through third. It showcases 21 stanzas from the territory’s anthem written by the late Alton A. Adams Sr.

The young artists featured in the book created visual works to go along with the stanzas.

For example, “Where all mankind can join today, In friendly warmth of work and play” is accompanied by a painting of a woman dancing under the legs of a mocko jumbie.

That particular piece was done by Christopher Williams, who hails from St. Thomas.

Other artists taking part are:

St. Thomas: Jendahye Antoine, D’Andre A. Barry, Prea Bhandari, Danielle Ebenholtz, Christopher Lawrence, Joshua Lewis, Dhymond Nicholls, Brent Peter, Adia Titus, Valyne Toussaint, Shaedaya Varlack, Brianna Vázquez Smith, and Khadijah Weekes Nolan.

St. Croix: Marcos Castillo, Whitly Charles, Leah Ferdschneider, Shakir Smith, Yolinette Velazquez, and Jazmine Willock.

St. John: Aariyah Athanase.

DeJongh said that as a child she had trouble remembering the words and worried that she’d be called upon to lead the anthem. She came up with the book idea to help youngsters with similar worries.

“It’s nice to have a visual,” she said.

She said that books done for previous holiday gifts to school children focused on the writers, so this one is a departure.

“They took a line from the march, and interpreted it visually,” she said.

Alton Adams in 1985. (Lynda Lohr photo)To find the illustrators, she put the word out, mainly though the V.I. Council on the Arts. Samples of the artists’ works went to book publisher Mario Picayo, who culled through the submissions. She said the goal was to have artists from all three islands.

Adams, who died in 1987 at age 98, wrote the music, but according to a biography by his son, Alton A. Adams Jr., the words came from two dozen residents. The words reflect Adams’ vision of a tolerant and democratic society.

Born on St. Thomas in what was then the Danish West Indies, Adams was a man of many occupations. He was a shoemaker, a correspondent for the Associated Press and a writer of his memoirs. He also operated the 1799 Guest House on Kongens Gade, which was his home.

He wrote many pieces, including “The Governor’s Own,” which is played when the governor enters formal events such as the annual State of the Territory address to the Legislature.

Adams told a Source reporter in 1985 that he wrote the music to the Virgin Islands March in 1917 right after the United States bought the territory. He said he dedicated it to Capt. William Russell White, who was an aide to the governor.

His connection to White came when Adams organized the Alton Adams Juvenile Band, which served as a liaison between the Navy, which then governed the territory, and the local residents. He took the band on tour, ultimately landing in Cuba.

He served as a U.S. Navy bandmaster, a post he held for 38 years.

“I was the first black bandmaster in the United States Navy,” he said.

The book project is funded through private donations. Donatins can be made online by visting http://www.cfvi.net/donate/donate-fund.php. Note that it’s for the First Lady’s Holiday Book 2014.

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