French St. Martin to research exact date of slavery abolishment

POSTED: 05/29/12 1:17 PM

AGREMENT, St. Martin —The French side of St. Martin celebrated the 164th anniversary of the abolition of slavery on Sunday with a cultural manifestation which included dance, songs and poetry that depicted the days of slavery on St. Maarten. The commemorative event took place in the vicinity of Lady Liberty at the Agrément roundabout just outside Marigot. It is the first time in recent history of the island that Emancipation Day has been celebrated with so much fanfare.
The Collectivité’s first Vice President responsible for Culture Aline Henson, said that the celebration is designed to create awareness in the younger generation about how things were done in the past and especially highlighting what the forefathers went through as slaves on the island. She noted that although it was a French side celebration, participants in the event hailed from both sides of the island.
She applauded the efforts of the newly elected French President François Hollande who insists that it is necessary that the culture of the islands be preserved; for the first time the Préfet Délégué Philippe Chopin was present at the celebrations.
Ruby Bute described Lady Liberty as the character “who holds the light to the path to freedom and happiness and shines the light on the darkness of enslavement which ends the way of oppression and self enslavement. Holding her lantern high she stands tall, she is undefeated because the truth has to be told.”
Lady Liberty was also described as a “great warrior” whose strength is seen in many of today’s women. The rendition of Lady Liberty by Ruby Bute was accompanied by the drum roll that was received with loud cheers from the audience.
Collectivité President Alain Richardson said that “it is with pride that we mark and celebrate the emancipation on this historic day in honor of the brave St.Martiners who fought an evil system called slavery.”
He saluted the brave men and women who have suffered under the inhumane conditions of slavery and are the roots of where the people stand today. He expressed his sorrow for those who had been subjected to slavery and stressed that “the strength that holds us together today is due to those who fought the abomination of slavery. If today we enjoy freedom is because of them.”
Richardson said that under his leadership the Collectivité will mark Emancipation Day annually. He plans to research the exact day that slavery was abolished on St. Martin; May 27 is the day it is celebrated in Guadeloupe. He wishes to complete the research before the 2013 commemoration.

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