A number of entertaining cultural activities helped to close off another highly educational Virgin Islands History Month this March. Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina, Director of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) V.I. Caribbean Cultural Center (VICCC), supported them all with her presence and participation.
In 2005, a legislative bill supporting the teaching of V.I. history in the classroom was approved. This month the community was able to learn more about their local history outside of the classroom.
On St. Thomas, where the Hubert Harrison play was premiered, to St. Croix where the UVI Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair hosted multiple international authors, publishers, playwrights and others. Three notable Virgin Islanders were highlighted throughout the month for their contributions to V.I., Caribbean and world history on a whole inclusive of Dr. Yosef ben Jochannon, Delta Jackson Dorch and Hubert Harrison.
Whether she’s sharing a testimony on the senate floor (video ) to supporting the enactment of bills about important Virgin Islanders (legislative bill honoring Virgin Islander Dr. Yosef ben Yochannan), or her brief appearances at local events (video: Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina speaks at honoring for Delta Dorch), Dr. Kahina’s work takes her not only throughout the Virgin Islands, Caribbean and U.S., but to other parts of the world as she proudly shares and garners support for the VICCC. Reflecting on the importance of V. I. History month Dr. Kahina stated, “Virgin Islands History is a cornerstone component that strengthens and maintains the culture, heritage and traditions of the people of the Virgin Islands and wider Caribbean.”
In an email, Dr. Kahina wrote, “As the global community respectfully observes the United Nations designated International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) January 2015 to December 2024, and our local community prepares to commemorate and ‘celebrate’ the centennial anniversary of Transfer Day on March 31st, 1917 from the Danish West Indies to the Virgin Islands of the United States of America, the culture and cultural identity of the Virgin Islands remains influx and intrinsically linked to Virgin Islands history and narratives that are featured annually in March during V.I. History Month observances, commemorations and celebrations.”
“V.I. History is evolving as the achievements and contributions of outstanding Virgin Islanders continues to be exposed, researched, published and shared widely. It is time for V.I. culture, history, heritage and educational resources to be respectfully integrated into global socio-cultural institutions.”
Jeffrey Perry, author of Hubert Harrison’s Biography and the “Hubert H. Harrison Papers,” shared his perspective of the significance in V.I. History when sharing his findings as a distinguished keynote presenter at the V.I Literary Festival and Book Fair. “Hubert Harrison is the only person in United States history to play leading roles in the largest class radical movement and the largest race radical movement of his era. As a radical activist he was extraordinary.”
“He (Harrison) was the foremost black organizer, agitator and theoretician in the socialist party around 1912. According to Perry, “Hubert Harrison introduced Marcus Garvey with his first Harlem crowd.”