Event to celebrate St. Croix’s maroons

An area of the island that historically held hope for enslaved Africans will be the focus this weekend as St. Croix AHEAD sponsors its first Maroon Commemorative Event, as Joy Blackburn reports for The Virgin Islands Daily News.

“This inaugural event will celebrate the untold story of St. Croix’s maroons and the maritime ‘underground railroad’ that brought many to freedom in Puerto Rico,” according to information about the event.

During slavery, the remote northwest corner of the island was historically a place where maroons – escaped slaves – hid out, some perhaps on their way to Puerto Rico and freedom.

Event activities begin today, with a maroon commemoration ceremony at 4 p.m. on Scenic Drive West.

“We’ll be doing a ceremony to honor the experience of the maroons, as well as to highlight the importance of preserving Maroon Ridge as a place of solace for all people, for all time,” said Devorath Elcock, the spokeswoman for St. Croix AHEAD.

The ceremony will feature libation and prayers and blessings.

St. Croix AHEAD is a joint project of the St. Croix Environmental Association and SUCCEED, which stands for St. Croix Unified for Community, Culture, Environment, and Economic Development.

SUCCEED has long been pushing for the establishment of a Maroon Sanctuary Park in the Maroon Ridge area.

This afternoon’s ceremony will take place along Scenic Drive, 1.4 miles west of The Beast.

For the ceremony, tents will be set up, as well as 100 seats, which will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, Elcock said.

People also are welcome to bring their own chairs, she said.

Red ribbons along the road will let drivers know they’re going in the right direction, Elcock said.

The ceremony is right by the road – not in the bush, she said.

“There’s no walking involved, except jumping out of your car and walking across the street,” she said.

Later, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. today, a St. Croix MiniFilm Fest and Meet and Greet will take place at the Melvin Evans Theater at the University of the Virgin Islands.

The trailer from the film “Sugar Pathways” will be shown, as well as clips from a Smithsonian Folklife Festival that was held on the island in the early 1990s, Elcock said.

The events continue on Saturday, with a Culture and Historic Preservation Symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Carambola Beach Resort.

Presenters include representatives from Jamaica’s maroon community, the Gullah Geechee community, St. Croix Interfaith Coalition, the Smithsonian Institute and federal and local officials.

The symposium is free open to the public; however, the amount of food prepared is based on the number of people who have pre-registered.

For those who haven’t pre-registered, “we can’t guarantee that they’ll be provided with lunch, but they can show up,” Elcock said.

If you’re planning to attend any of the activities, St. Croix AHEAD would like to know ahead of time, by email or phone at stxahead.succeed@gmail.com or call 772-9685 and leave a message. St. Croix AHEAD will be checking messages today, Elcock said. Although it’s preferred, pre-registration is not required.

On Sunday, there will be hikes showcasing the island’s northwest corner and Maroon Ridge.

One hike will start at 8 a.m. Sunday behind the guard gate at the Carambola Beach Resort.

Participants, led by Olassee Davis, will hike along the peninsula and be able to swim in the tidal pools and have a view of Maroon Ridge, Elcock said.

Another hike leaves from Frederiksted, with participants asked to meet at Rainbow Beach at 9 a.m. Sunday. They then will drive to the National Guard gate and hike up Maroon Ridge. The hike will be led by Ras Lumumba.

The hikes are $20. No children younger than 5 are permitted on the hikes, which are considered moderate difficulty, Elcock said.

For the original report go to http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/event-to-celebrate-st-croix-s-maroons-1.1380177

Image of sacred Maroon site from http://wrcinashfield.wordpress.com/tag/st-croix/#jp-carousel-25

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