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Emancipation Day

Community Voice 01 Aug, 2022 1 Comments Follow News

Emancipation Day

Mr/Madam Editor

Please allow me space in your newspaper to correct a major historical distortion which I read on one of the electronic news outlets this morning.

Emancipation Day(First of August) was celebrated in the Cayman Islands as a public holiday well into the twentieth century. Writing in my flagship work The Cayman Islands in Transition :The Politics ,History and Sociology of a Changing Society ,I gave this explanation:

" The celebration was especially vibrant in Bodden Town ,the first political capital (and the recognized slave capital by virtue of the large number of slaves held by Bodden Town slave holders) where it was traditional for Dick Frederick, a prominent black man to hold an annual celebratory dance"

. This gentleman held a standing contract with the governing authorities for the rental of the Bodden Town Town Hall where the soiree was held. Upstanding Caymanians of colour from West Bay to East End were patrons of this grand affair and I remember well as a youngster hearing adults describe some of these patrons in respectful and endearing terms. Prominent Caymanians of colour like the klate Alvey Smith and William Nixon from George Town as well as men like Burnel Dixon from East End , were accompanied by their spouses dressed in the fashion of the era .

The orchestra providing the music during the years which I recall was also star studded, headed by prominent Caymanian musicians the late James Thomas and Kitchener Solomon. And my information is that these maestros were superceded by the inimitable Reid Green and his brother Hafford Green , themselves prominent Bodden Town musicians.

It appears that the Emancipation Day celebrations gained prominence in the early twentieth century and may have had its genesis at the time Caymanians honoured Queen Victoria by constructing memorials in her honour as they thought that it was her generosity which brought Emancipation.

First of August as a public holiday was removed from the Caymanian cultural calendar

by revisionists who falsely claimed that there was no slavery in the Cayman Islands.

For the record , First of August was a much celebrated holiday on Grand Cayman and there are those Caymanians who still lament its removal from our Cultural Calendar.

J. A. Roy Bodden

Comments (1)

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Kattina Anglin

21 Sep, 2022

Dear Mr Bodden,

Thank you for this. We are the only Caribbean island that does not know it's own history, it appears, but have worked exceptionally hard to derail any effort to educate on it.

God bless you.