On October 21, 2022 we were honored that Artlantic chose to screen our award winning film, Fireburn the Documentary, as a part of their Fireburn commemorative event. This free event was in memory of the Fireburn Queens: Queen Mary Thomas, Queen Agnes Salomon, Queen Mathilda McBean and Queen Susanna Abramsen AKA “Bottom Belly.”
In support of Artlantic’s mission, Fireburn Heritage donated copies of Fireburn the Screenplay, James and the Fireburn, along with Fireburn the Documentary, so that Artlantic can place them in libraries throughout Denmark. This will allow the people of Denmark access to these products that reflect on the event known as the Fireburn, which took place when the current day US Virgin Islands were the Danish West Indies.
Artlantic is a non-profit organization that produces and curates art/cultural clusters that reflect upon Denmark’s participation in the transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans. Artlantic seeks to utilize the arts and cultural clusters to create trans-spaces, which are not bound to the specific time and place of the colonial period. These trans-spaces are where unsettled processes, as a result of colonialism, can transmute, transpose, translate, transmit, transform and ultimately transcend suffering as a form of healing.
Healing through Art and Cultural Clusters
As a kickoff to the Library of Congress’ National Book Fair, the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands hosted an intimate gathering on September 1st, 2022. The invitation-only event was held on the rooftop terrace of Planet Word Museum in Washington, DC and featured stunning views, delicious food and drink, and an opportunity to mingle with family and friends of CFVI. CFVI gave out t-shirts, branded bags, masks and many other goodies. Fireburn Heritage board members, Lou Golden and Erin Bryan were in attendance, along with family and friends of Fireburn Heritage. As guest of honor, Angela, Executive Director of Fireburn Heritage, gave a few words and signed books.
As part of the Library of Congress’ National Book Faire, each state and territory affiliate is invited to name a children’s and adult book as its designated Great Reads for 2022. Each book is selected by a local Center for the Book or state library and most are for children and young readers.
“James and the Fireburn,” written by Angela Golden Bryan, has been designated as the territory’s children’s Great Read for 2022. An anti-bullying human rights story inspired by Caribbean history, the story focuses on the importance for children to learn right from wrong and to avoid destructive bullying behavior. The book provides lessons in making wise choices for children while educating readers about a piece of U.S. Caribbean history.
“Fireburn the Screenplay,” also authored by Bryan, was selected as the adult Great Read for 2022 from the USVI. The screenplay is based on the history of St. Croix and the territory’s bloody labor revolt of 1878.
Fireburn Heritage’s mission is to passionately honor the proud U.S. Virgin Islands’ heritage, celebrate its unique culture, and empower future generations by providing educational and artistic tools, resources, collaborative support, and inspiration. We are humbled and honored that two of our products were selected to represent the VI at this year’s Library of Congress National Book Fair. We are grateful to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands for the opportunity to share VI history beyond the territories.
As the Library of Congress Center for the Book affiliate for the USVI, the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, with support from the Tourism Department, along with several board members of Fireburn Heritage, represented the territory at the 22nd annual Library of Congress National Book Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. on September 3rd.
Our Literacy Campaign is based on the desire to contribute high quality resources to public schools, while providing opportunities for lifelong learning in each school. The campaign entails placing sufficient copies of each book in each of the US Virgin Islands school’s libraries so that an entire class can have access to the books for class assignments at the same time. “James and the Fireburn” will be placed in each elementary school library; copies of “Fireburn the Screenplay” will be donated to each junior high and high school, along with the lifetime rights to screen “Fireburn the Documentary.”
The interactive component of the literacy campaign allows for the author/creator of the products to interact with each class virtually, so as to provide qualitative time with each class. Having guest readers, along with Q & A is a valuable component for stimulating students’ interest in reading, enhancing literacy, and inspiring creativity and research.
This campaign was made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands with Funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and will allow students to have access to these tools for years to come.
In December 2021, we partnered with WTJX PBS, Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, Virgin Islands Museum Civic Cultural Center, Reichhold Center for the Arts, and Bajo Del Sol Art Gallery, and presented free screenings of the award winning Fireburn Documentary. The free premiere screening was held on the island of St. Croix, followed by screenings on St. John and St. Thomas. Each screening featured local musicians, as well as a Q & A panel consisting of some of the documentary cast members, along with another expert in Virgin Islands history.
The screenings were jointly funded by a $20,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, along with a $7,000 project support grant from the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, a federal agency.
“Short films are making progressive waves this past year, especially one project by artist and filmmaker Angela Golden Bryan.”
“The documentary explores the inhumane work and living conditions that existed prior to the revolt and takes an in depth look at the women who were called “Queens” due to their leadership.”
“[…] a short documentary that pays homage to an event significant to Virgin Islands history.”
“The documentary helps bring the story to a global stage and new audiences.”
“This documentary is an insightful look into Virgin Islands history and culture. Not only is it visually stunning, it puts a whole new meaning and depth behind the Fireburn.”
“This screenplay had me riveted and feeling spellbound, shocked, saddened, uplifted and joyous…all at the same time.”
“Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. Although it’s written in a movie script format, it only took me a couple of pages to get used to it and get into a rhythm. Super interesting and educational. Would love to see this on the big screen one day!”
“Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially the history of the islands, will love this. The angst and frustration of our ancestors during and after slavery supposedly ended was deeply felt as I read the lines of this screenplay.”
“This book is amazing! As a teacher from the Virgin Islands, I appreciate that I can teach about bullying and incorporate aspects of our history!”
“This is a wonderfully written and illustrated book! Children and adults will benefit from the author’s message. Every child should be able to read this inspirational book and hopefully schools will make this a part of their curriculum.”