MESSAGE BY DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, CULTURE, YOUTH AFFAIRS, FISHERIES AND AGRICULTURE
DR. THE HONOURABLE NATALIO D. WHEATLEY
IN CELEBRATION OF
THE 1949 GREAT MARCH AND RESTORATION DAY
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2020
Greetings and God’s blessings
On Monday 22nd November, for the first time in our history, the Virgin Islands will be celebrating a new and powerful holiday, “The 1949 Great March and Restoration Day.” One of the most powerful and influential events in the history of the Virgin Islands occurred 72 years ago, on November 24th 1949. At a time when the population of the Virgin Islands was under 7000, 1500 persons, led by Theodolf Faulkner, Isaac “Glanny Fonseca, and Carlton Decastro, marched through Road Town, demanding among other things the restoration of our legislative council.
These proud Virgin Islanders marched for our autonomy, for our ability to determine our own destiny, for the right to develop our education and health systems, to build our economy and infrastructure, and to chart a path towards a brighter future. As a result of their bold and brave actions, one year later, our legislative council was restored, and on 27th November 1950, we elected four parliamentarians and representatives of our people. Their names were Isaac Glanville Fonseca, H.R. Penn, Carlton Decastro, and John Charles Brudenell-Bruce.
These two events were instrumental in setting the Virgin Islands on its present path of progress, lifting its people out of the underdevelopment associated with its colonial past. In December 2020, the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands made the historic decision to observe this holiday in 2021. The observance of this newly established holiday is in keeping with a greater awareness of our history and culture and an awakening of national pride in our community. We urge all persons to participate in the re-enactment of the 1949 Great March being organized by the Virgin Islands Communal Association, which will take place at 4pm on Sunday. Also, on Wednesday 24th November, we invite you to the Learning Resource Centre at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College for the launching of a publication entitled “The Great March and The Restoration of the Legislative Council.”
This publication, to be used in our secondary and tertiary educational institutions, was compiled by the Director of the Virgin Islands Studies Institute at HLSCC, Bernadine Louis, in collaboration with Gabrielle Skelton Bardo. Let us teach our children about our proud history and legacy. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and we are grateful to our ancestors for their sacrifice on our behalf. We enjoy the benefits of a BVI built by our foreparents, and we have a responsibility to take care of it and fight for it for future generations.
God’s blessings upon these Virgin Islands and have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.