Remove & Replace Bust of King Christian IX to one of Moses Gottlieb in Emancipation Garden

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Prior to its dedication in 1998 for the 150th Anniversary of Emancipation in the Danish West Indies, the grounds of the now Emancipation Garden had existed in Charlotte Amalie under Danish rule as “Frederik Park”. A gazebo, similar to the bandstand currently there was erected in wood and often used for public speeches and other activities. It possible that news of Emancipation was brought from St Croix and spread from what was then King’s Wharf at the edge of these grounds in town.

30 years after Emancipation in 1878, under the rule of King Christian IX, conditions of former slaves in the Danish West Indies were virtually unchanged. On Contract Day (October 1) the only day laborers were “free” to seek employment on another plantation, Crucians revolted and burned the island to the ground in the fight for better living and working conditions. 12 men were immediately hung upon confirmation of their participation in the riot. After trial, some of the women who we today revere as Queens would be convicted and sentenced to prison in Denmark where three other men would join them. The word “Fireburn” has rightfully been singed into the consciousness of our people.

King Christian IX of Denmark, would die in January of 1906 and 3 years later... 30 years after the Fireburn...the first publicly erected monument in the Danish West Indies would be placed at the seaside entrance of our capitol in his honor- despite his having never stepped foot on our shores. The purchase and transfer to American rule would occur 8 years later.

Of all the places this relic of the past could sit, it is troubling at best and sinister at worst, that the bust of King Christian IX casts the longest shadow in Emancipation Garden. When the sons and daughters of our diaspora are looking up in a park dedicated to their freedom, it is not their reflection they see towering above them but the face of their oppressor. It is important for us to reclaim our history and understand the weight and strength of what it means to be a Virgin Islander. If we are to honor the heroes of our past, only the bust of one man should stand as sentry over a space dedicated to the emancipation and freedom Virgin Islanders gave ourselves and his name is Moses Gottlieb.

We must embrace all of our history: the good, the bad, the indifferent. The bust of King Christian IX is a part of our history and it should be displayed, but a place of reverence and esteem like that of Emancipation Garden is not that place. We must be mindful of how we pay homage to the past and the messages we send in doing so. 

So I ask you, Confederate Monuments are falling in the South- should ours be taken down too?