Sen. DeGazon calls on Governor to grant Monday, Nov 2nd as David Hamilton Jackson Holiday
Following Governor Albert Bryan Jr.’s announcement to not commemorate Nov. 2nd as a holiday for David Hamilton Jackson, Sen. Allison DeGazon sent the governor a plea to honor the date as customary and has also proposed legislation to fix future issues relative to the date.
Since 1981 the Virgin Islands has honored one of its most accomplished and impactful leader and advocate, the great David Hamilton Jackson, with a government holiday to commemorate “Liberty Day” on November 1. This is the calendar date that Jackson chose to organize a very successful day of protest and solidarity in the year 1915.
“I am sure you will agree that D. Hamilton Jackson’s legacy in the Virgin Islands is tremendous and worthy of highest honors and commemoration in the form of this public holiday. Whether known as “Liberty Day”, “D. Hamilton Jackson Day”, or “Bull and Bread Day”, November 1 is as significant a holiday to the people of the Virgin Islands as Martin Luther King Day is in the United States. D. Hamilton Jackson was our people’s greatest champion in the 20th century,” DeGazon wrote to the governor.
As this year’s November 1 falls on a Sunday, Gov. Bryan has decided that due to the heavy backlog of work at government agencies, Monday November 2 will not be designated as a holiday to honor Liberty Day, as has been customary in previous administrations.
“While I do understand your concerns about the effects that a day taken off the work calendar can have on the people of the Virgin Islands in need of government services in this difficult year, I am writing to request that you reconsider your decision to not formally observe the Liberty Day holiday on Monday, November 2, 2020,” DeGazon said noting that by way of comparison, all US federal holidays are either fixed date (such as July 4 or December 25) or floating Mondays. “As you know, Martin Luther King Day is a floating Monday federal holiday, so that this date might be honored every year, regardless of the day of the week that it falls upon.” However, as the calendar date of November 1 is historically significant a floating Monday holiday is not possible for Liberty day.
“However, the cultural importance of honoring Liberty Day in the Virgin Islands is crucial each and every year, no less so in 2020. Just imagine the United States not giving MLK day a weekday observance and the message that would send to the citizens about this holiday relative to others such as Memorial Day, or the morally questionable Columbus Day that are observed every year,” DeGazon said.
The Senator has also proposed legislation to mandate that whenever November 1 falls upon a Saturday or Sunday, that “Liberty Day be honored as a Virgin Islands government holiday on the subsequent Monday.”
The senator also wrote to Senate President Novelle E. Francis Jr. to request that the Legislature, as a co-equal branch of government, observe Liberty Day for its employees on Monday, November 2, 2020.
“This year, the Legislature should act on its own, if necessary, to observe this important holiday for our employees,” DeGazon said.
David Hamilton Jackson had a tremendous legacy from his long public life as a labor leader, advocate, community leader, lawyer, legislator, and judge.
On November 1, 1915, following his successful efforts to finally establish a free press in the Danish West Indies, David Hamilton Jackson proclaimed the date as a future public holiday to be known as “Liberty Day”. He requested that the people of St. Croix forgo work that day and attend a celebration in Christiansted to honor the rights of the people and to demonstrate solidarity in the face of oppression.
“In a year of challenge and travail such as this one, a day of rest in commemoration of David Hamilton Jackson and values such as liberty, solidarity and freedom of expression is especially important,” DeGazon said.