St. Thomas 𑁋 This Bread and Bull Day, the longest-running print paper in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the newest online newspaper in the territory will receive journalism awards. The Office of Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett will present an award to the owner of the St. Croix Avis and another to the founder of State of the Territory News on St. Croix this week.
Bread and Bull Day is also referred to as Liberty Day
Plaskett’s office is leaning on the historic achievements of D. Hamilton Jackson, a well-renowned local figure who rose to prominence in the Caribbean and Denmark before the Virgin Islands came under American rule. The Liberty Awards recognize him as a trailblazer in print journalism as he tackled tough issues and pushed back on colonial rule and oppression — and winning a battle for a free and independent press in the Danish West Indies by petitioning Denmark.
Held as a public holiday in the U.S. Virgin Islands annually on November 1st, Liberty Day commemorates David Hamilton Jackson and the institution of Free Press in the Danish West Indies, now the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Congresswoman announced earlier in October that the first D. Hamilton Jackson Lifetime Award will be awarded to Rena Brobhurst, who is the owner of the St. Croix Avis — and the Ariel Melchoir Trailblazer Award will be awarded to Amaziah George, the founder, and product manager of State of the Territory News.
“I wanted to create an award, and hope that it will be expanded to be run by someone or groups other than me, as a way to celebrate our own local journalists,” Plaskett said. “There is an understanding on Capitol Hill that while we are not always in agreement, or happy with what the press may say, they serve an important part of our democracy.”
The St. Croix Avis is currently the longest-running print newspaper in the U.S. Virgin Islands — the publication was founded in the year 1844 and has chronicled the territory’s history from Danish rule to the American transfer in the early 20th century. To date, you can find newspapers covering major events published by the St. Croix Avis in public archives in the U.S. Virgin Islands and as far as Denmark.
“I’ve been concerned that Virgin Islanders have not been engaged in Liberty Day as they may have a generation ago,” Plaskett said in a statement to State of the Territory News. “The Grove Place Action Committee has done a tremendous job keeping the history and importance of D. Hamilton Jackson, his work and the importance of free press alive.”
The paper was also instrumental in documenting a major natural disaster that impacted the then Danish West Indies in 1867 when two massive tsunami waves struck St. Thomas and St. Croix.
State of the Territory News was founded in early 2017 and covers stories on tech, culture, and politics in the Virgin Islands. Awards will be presented and on November 1st at Company Hotel located at 2 Company Street in Christiansted, St. Croix in celebration of Bread and Bull Day.
The event begins at 6 p.m. and is a free event that is open to the public.