Transfer Day, Sequel…

13537643_10154256308053209_1064798827064096951_nOn March 31, 2017 the Virgin Islands will commemorate the centennial of Transfer Day, which marks the occasion when the former Danish West Indies, now known as the Virgin Islands was officially transferred to the United States of America. The inhabitants of the Virgin Islands lived under the military rule of the US Navy and Marines from 1917 until 1927, when the US Congress conferred statutory citizenship on the former Danish subjects. Statutory citizenship is something like Naturalized citizenship, but different as it has limitations.

Since 1970 the citizens of the Virgin Islands began electing their own governor according to the “Revised Organic Act” of 1954, the constitution of the unincorporated procession of the United States. Thus far there have been five Constitutional Conventions which failed to finalize a founding constitutional document. In addition, the Virgin Islands and inhabitants are covered under the United Nations Resolution 1514, which addresses the right of self-determination of indigenous peoples.

The last census reported that there are a little more than 100,000 residents in the Virgin Islands, which is dwarfed by the numbers of citizens living in the United States with ancestral roots in the VI. This writer is a first generation American citizen of his paternal line, as his father was born on St. Croix, and served in WWII. Similarly, there are countless others living in the states with roots in the Virgin Islands dating back to the massive migration that occurred beginning in the 1920s. Hence there are a least hundreds of thousands of mainland Americans with roots in the Virgin Islands.

The central character in Transfer Day researched his roots and discovered that is great, great 13310508_486163381508539_7501799415740715187_ngrandfather was born into slavery in 1825 and lived on Estate Hermitage and worked as a cooper. The author’s journey of discovery was a personally fulfilling exercise and was a profound learning experience regarding the not commonly known facts associated with the role of the Virgin Islands and Caribbean in the procession of the African Diaspora in the “New World.” Obscured but very relevant and timely facts will be unearthed…

Moreover, the future well-being of the Virgin Islands may be in the balanced by way of residents of the United States identifying their VI roots and participating the present and future of their ancestral homeland. Accordingly, the state of the Virgin Islands, such as it is, may offer a compelling argument for your attention, and perhaps engagement… Transfer Day is a compelling and persuasive engagement,  checkout the Epilogue and Transfer Day II www.TransferDayBook.com

Transfer Day Book…

Commemorating the Transfer Day Centennial March 31, 2017, will be a climax to one of the great discoveries in my relatively long life, as I celebrate my seventh year as a resident of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, of the United States.

tdcoverI first learn about Transfer Day in 2009 after relocating from New York City to St. Croix, the birthplace of my beloved father Leando James in 1922. I began researching my family roots at the WHIM Great House Museum, and became overwhelmed with the wealth and bounty of the personal and historical information I was discovering. Transfer Day among other colorful and rich history of the former Danish West Indies, now known as the Virgin Islands of the United States; coupled with the discovery of my deep family roots on the big island were profound revelations to me. Having reached middle age, born and formally educated in New York City, and fairly well read, I was confounded by what I was learning for the first about “New World” history, the United States of America, as well as my ancestry.

My studies didn’t cover the transfer/sale of the formerly known Danish West Indies, now known as the Virgin Islands to the United States of America. I had no knowledge of the fact that for the first ten years of rule by the United States, that the Virgin Islands was under a military government, vis-à-vis, the Navy and Marines. It was interesting to learn that the United States Congress conferred statutory citizenship to inhabitants in 1927, and statutory limitations of statutory citizenship remain to this current day.

I was equally amazed to learn that my great, great grandfather Johannes James was born into slavery in 1825, lived and worked as a cooper on Estate Heritage. And the records point out that his parents Adam and Helena, lived on the Estate as well. Johannes would have been 23 years old and his parent’s perhaps in their 40’s on what I learned was Emancipation Day, July 3, 1848. And they may have been around during the “fireburn” and Contract Day 1878

I had no idea that a great migration from the Virgin Islands to the states began in the 1920s, particularly to New York City. I was surprised to learn that Virgin Islanders were in the vanguard of the famous Harlem renascence, and many played roles of great consequence in politics, labor movements, literary and culture contributions are enormous.

Casper Holstein a migrant to New York City, from St. Croix, is credited with perfecting, if not inventing “the numbers gambling game.” He amassed millions of dollars, and lived a high profile lifestyle in New York City as well as in the Virgin Islands. Holstein is also credited helping to finance his brother-in-law David Hamilton Jackson’s undertakings with the St. Croix Labor Union and land deals.

Until this day the “numbers” remains as it was then in terms of 6X1 payout and it continues to be a job opportunity in the informal economy that plays a consequential role in the underground economy in many cities and urban centers. That fact that Holstein was kidnapped by the mob and returned after the delivery of a handsome ransom ads intrigue and gangster flare to the story…

My grandparents Theophilus and Beatrice Phillipus-James, my father and aunt migrated to NYC in 1925, never to return. Theophilus was the youngest of five siblings born in 1900, Adam and Fancisca (Frankie) James were his parents, Annie, Arabella, Patrick, Charles and Theophilus their five children.

Information was intense and abounding which inspired me to consolidate the work it into a book and try and make it a coherent read that I might understand and enjoy, as well as family and others. TRANSFER DAY was released in 2014 and it was a great personal relief and release to finally like it, like me go…

In flection, this cursory exposure to the New World and America’s history has embroidered my world view by way of offering a coherent yet complicated account of the African Diaspora, in the context of the colorful historical variations of African descendants coming from respective European colonial histories and ending up on the American mainland… A very enriching experience, and highly recommended.

With the United States of America being a general finial destination in the western hemisphere for many, it is not easy to appreciate or discern the respective secondary historical roots, vis-à-vis, European Caribbean colonial masters for friends and neighbors… In New York City for example “Black” Americans are generalized as a whole, but there are many significant nuances by way of history, tradition and culture that are over looked, or will continue to be unknown…

The rich variety that comprises the African Diaspora becomes vivid and graphic by way of a Caribbean historical lens is indeed recommended by this writer/explorer. And many Americans have roots in the Caribbean that will remain unknown, unless you (first parson singular) dig-up your roots and embellish your world view.

I remain inspired as my research and writing continues, along with learning…

TRANSFER DAY is available in the printed as well as ebook versions are available @ www.sbpra.com/GaryJames TRANSFER DAY is also available along with other books at Amazon…

Transfer Day II

TransferDayIITransfer Day Epilogue makes the way for Transfer Day II, which is an addendum to the first Transfer Day release. Hopefully Transfer Day II provides context and perspective to the emotional exercise that attended my journey of discovery and revelation. The profundity of my discoveries in the context my family roots on St. Croix, and the rich history of the Virgin Islands eclipsed two projects already underway, hijacked my creative energy and Transfer Day was born. I was both relieved and released at its completion, completed the two projects that were postponed and began Transfer Day II…

TRANSFER DAY EPILOGUE – The first edition of Transfer Day was released in September of 2014. I began writing the manuscript about 6 months after relocating from New York City, to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. I knew that St. Croix was the birthplace of my beloved father and grandparents. Inspiration for the book came from my preliminary research at the Whim Great House Museum relative to my family ancestry, but much of what I learned was a great revelation to me. I learned that my grandparents migrated to New York City in 1925, with my father Leander and Aunt Erma, aged 3 and 1 respectively. What was particularly interesting was the fact that my grandfather Theophilus James was the youngest of five siblings (two sisters and two brothers) and was born in 1900, in the Danish West Indies now as the Virgin Islands of the United States. Further research revealed that my great, great grandfather Johannes James was born into slavery in 1825, and worked as a cooper on Estate Hermitage where his parents, Adam and Helena, lived as well. I was stunned as I realized that my African DNA arrived in the western hemisphere, on St. Croix three generations earlier, and that I have any number of cousins living there and in the wider Caribbean.  In addition to discovering my ancestral roots on St. Croix, the research also shed a light on some historical facts previously unknown to me concerning the impact that Virgin Islanders made on the social, cultural and political development of the United States. This was particularly true of the storied Harlem Renaissance. I was riveted by this flood of new information and the fact that it had heretofore eluded me. It inspired me to learn about events such as, Emancipation Day, Contract Day, Transfer Day, etc. and be introduced to consequential Virgin Islanders like David Hamilton Jackson, Casper Holstein to name only two of many…

I was overwhelmed at first then captivated by the process of making sense of this new information and incorporating it into my world view. As I complete my 5th year as a resident of the Virgin Islands a/k/a paradise USA, I have gained context and perspective to aid my research and growing understanding of my new home. Consequently, I am inspired to write a second edition of Transfer Day that includes context and perspective on local economic, social and political realities. The Virgin Islands is approaching the centennial of the historic occasion known as Transfer Day. Accordingly, March 31, 2017 will mark 100 years since the official transfer of the Danish West Indies, to the Virgin Islands of the United States. The annual Transfer Day commemoration, which is a local holiday celebrated with fanfare and revelry. While Transfer Day and the events leading up to it was a revelation to me, the local consternation represents a dichotomy in viewpoints among residents.  Nevertheless, plans are underway in official quarters of Denmark and the Virgin Islands for an auspicious bi-lateral centennial celebration. It is appropriate if not propitious to highlight the Transfer Day dichotomy in the framework of the current economic, political and social trajectory of the Virgin Islands territory. Perhaps this work may make a contribution to the growing conversation among Virgin Islanders regarding the coming centennial event.

The Virgin Islands of the United States boosts it’s prowess as a popular tourist destination for many vacationers, including the rich and famous of the world. Of the three islands that constitute the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and St. John enjoy the lion’s share of the tourism dollar, while St. Croix, over two decades has been the venue for industrial development. The largest effort was a petro chemical refinery whose latest incarnation (HOVENSA), shut down refining operations in 2012, after more than four decades of operation. At its height, over two thousand employees worked for the refinery and so the demise of refining operations has generated a substantial amount of unemployment that plagues the local economy of the territory. Four plus decades of refining oil has wrought untold health and environmental issues that may have reached critical mass, but the anecdotal quality of the data stymies the prospect of environmental remediation and attention to the wellness of St. Croix’s impacted residents. The negative impact that accompanied the petro chemical industry is being exacerbated by the manufacturing of rum on the island. There is a fungus plaguing St. Croix, which is the result of the fermenting process generated by the rum companies, vis-à-vis, Cruzan Rum and Deageo Rum Company. A black mole is infecting plant life, accumulating on the roofs and is entering cisterns in affected areas. It is currently an open question as to the extent to which this mole blight will negatively impact the health of residents going forward. Furthermore, there may be a new incarnation of oil refining as the Virgin Islands legislature and governor have penned a deal by way of the Fourth Extension Agreement, which has positioned HOVENSA to sell the refinery to another petro chemical company.

TO READ THE ENTIRE TRANSFER DAY EPILOGUE, CHECKOUT THE LINK ON  SIDE THE RIGHT SIDEBAR…

tdcoverGET A FREE BOOK, write a review… A free book will be given away on each quarter free, until March 31, 2017, which will mark 100 years since the transfer of the Danish West Indies, now known as the Virgin Islands to the United States. An official centennial commemoration of the occasion is being authorized and planned by the Virgin Islands government, and there is a universe of reactions at the grassroots level, raising interesting questions concerning the plans underway. Visceral political rhetoric and expressions by some referencing the need for the VI to move beyond the adoration of former and present colonial masters, vis-à-vis, Denmark and the United States, has popular resonance.

These abounding controversies and information heretofore unknown to me associated with the upcoming Transfer Day centennial event is inspiring and educational, and it has motivated me to write Transfer Day II. Therefore, I have written an epilogue as a prelude to manuscript of the second edition: Transfer Day II. In the interim I would greatly appreciate receiving your review of Transfer Day, which will be insightful instructive helping me learn various perspectives as I write manuscript II. I cordially invite you to read the epilogue.

The various chapters of the book are individually positioned in respective pages of this website, for your perusal…

VIDEO TRAILER https://youtu.be/Busc_tTzJ9o