St. Croix Emancipation Celebrations Featured on CNN iReport

~ Journalist’s visit to the Territory yields three-part online video series on that highlights
black history and culture in the U.S. Virgin Islands ~


U.S. Virgin Islands (July 11, 2013) – When journalist Tracy Bymoen visited the U.S. Virgin Islands on assignment for CNN iReport in February 2013, she was inspired by the rich history she encountered. One finding that stood out to her during her Department of Tourism-supported press visit was the Territory’s July 3 observance of the emancipation of slaves, which occurred decades before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in the United States.  Posted to the site over the recent July 4 weekend, Bymoen’s CNN iReport article and photo slideshow entitled “July 3, Emancipation Day on US Virgin Islands, Honors Black History” takes a look at the story of the St. Croix slaves’ revolt, which led to their emancipation and the impact it had on Alexander Hamilton as a founding father of the United States
of America.

“The most interesting thing I learned was how well people mobilized for a rebellion, which ultimately led to a revolution,” said Bymoen. “It’s especially interesting in light of the recent modern people’s revolutions in countries like Brazil, Egypt and Turkey.”

Pictured in the slideshow are Benito Vegas, interpreter for the National Parks Service on St. Croix; Frandelle Gerard, executive director of Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism (CHANT) and cultural author V. Celeste Fahie, all of whom worked with the Department of Tourism to escort Bymoen through Fort Frederik, Fort Christiansvaern, Free Gut and other historic and cultural sites around the island while sharing the historic narrative behind each landmark.  A quadrille dancer is also featured in the slideshow wearing a traditional costume at the Agrifest celebrations. This editorial coverage on the destination will be seen by the more than 700,000 unique visitors who flock to this leading news site each month.

This Emancipation Day feature is the latest of three CNN iReports posted by Bymoen. On February 20, 2013, a video report entitled “US Virgin Islands: Heritage Remembered on St. Croix” was posted to the site. The four-minute report includes a lengthy interview at the VI Agrifest grounds with St. Croix Landmarks Society’s Executive Director Sonia Jacobs Dow, who explains the plethora of resources made available to people interested in genealogy research by the Society through its libraries and museums. Bradley Christian, President of the St. Croix Heritage Dancers, also explains the cultural significance of the quadrille dance. In “Dancing for Freedom, Dancing for Identity,” a follow-up video report posted on February 28, 2013; St. Thomian MaryAnn Golden Christopher along with a fellow dancer and two drummers demonstrate the traditional Bamboula dance in front of the Legislature Building in Charlotte Amalie and explain the cultural importance of preserving the tradition.

“To keep our heritage alive we must lend our support to the journalists who are interested in telling its stories,” said Assistant Commissioner of Tourism, Brad Nugent, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of Tracy’s experience here in the U.S. Virgin Islands and look forward to welcoming more members of the media and blogging community who seek to investigate and tell our story.”

CNN iReport is the news network’s online “citizen journalism” initiative – a community of global citizens who contribute stories, photos and video footage of breaking news and events from their own towns and around the world. CNN producers review submitted iReports daily and clear them to air on the cable news station’s television operations. Tracy’s two video reports aired on CNN International earlier this year. To learn more about CNN iReport, go to

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Contact:              Allegra Kean-Moorehead

Director of Communications

(340) 774-8784 ext. 2234