As defined by Wikipedia: Emancipation Day is celebrated in various locations in observation generally of the emancipation of slaves. Different areas celebrate the holiday on different days, for ex: Bermuda (Aug 1), Texas (June 19) and Puerto Rico (March 22). The majority of the countries who celebrate it mark the day sometime in August.
For the Virgin Islands the day is celebrated on July 3rd, here’s a brief background (from the VI Daily News):
Virgin Islanders across the territory will ring in the 160th anniversary of Emancipation with a full slate of events.
The History, Culture & Tradition Foundation released its schedule of activities in commemoration of the historic day at a press conference Thursday at Buddhoe Park in Frederiksted.
“This is probably the most important holiday in the Virgin Islands for Virgin Islanders because it designates our freedom,” Pamela Richards, the foundation’s executive director, said. “We’re trying to get to point where our commemoration and celebration of it are in keeping with the significance of the day.”
On July 3, 1848, about 30,000 enslaved Africans from plantations on the western end of St. Croix marched into Frederiksted to demand their freedom.
Led by Moses Gottlieb and Admiral Martin King, they confronted Danish soldiers.
Danish Gov. Peter Von Scholten, seeing the potential for trouble, rode into town and proclaimed all unfree in the Danish West Indies free from that day forward.
Here are the activities taking place on St. Thomas today (as per the VI Daily News):
- Emancipation Day Prayer Breakfast, Friends of Sen. Liston Davis, from 8 a.m. to noon at Victor’s New Hideout. Honorees are Henrita Barber, Tulip Fleming, Malcolm Grant Jr., Helen Hart, Beryl Ottley, Dorine Petty, Albert Richards, Esther Walters and Sinclair Wilkinson. The keynote speaker will be Teacher of the Year, Kimberly Sierra.
- Emancipation Day Coalition will hold a radio program at 7 p.m. on WSTA 1340 AM.
- The coalition will also hold a Cultural Rally in Emancipation Garden at 4 p.m. featuring songs, poetry, music, and open-mic, and speeches.
There are activities on St. Croix and St. John as well.