Black Awareness And Social Unrest In The U.S. Virgin Islands: A Case Study Of Black Nationalism, 1968-1986
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentHistory and Geography
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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From 1968 to 1986, the influences of black nationalism--primarily self-determination in place of white hegemony--impacted the U.S. Virgin Islands politically, socially, and economically. This dissertation uses a black nationalist theoretical approach to examine the reaction of black Virgin Islanders to their status in the islands during the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement. During the 1960s, the U.S. Virgin Islands experienced a transformation from an impoverished and mainly agricultural society to one that was tourist oriented and industrial based. Thus, the local politicians abandoned the territory's agriculture economy and implemented a developmental program, which focused heavily on tourism, as well as light industry. As a result of this policy, the territory was enhanced financially and materially. However, the islands were also overwhelmed with serious social problems. Many native-born Virgin Islanders felt displaced and marginalized because of an influx of Puerto Ricans, white U.S. mainlanders, and British West Indian immigrants. From 1968 to 1986, Black Virgin Islanders used the principles of black nationalism as a framework for protest against their exploitation. The marginalized masses' activities created political and civic organizations and conducted demonstrations. Some of the most effective methods of protest were the attempts to educate the people about their black heritage and culture, to increase their race consciousness, and educating them regarding the need to improve their socio-economic status. During this period, black nationalist thought and ideas influenced the U.S. Virgin Islands politically, socially, and economically. For the most part, the Virgin Islands Government officials responded negatively to the protesters. However, there were instances when the government was forced to respond in a manner, which met the demands of the black activists. Primary data include: manuscript papers from Morgan State University, the University of Maryland, College Park, and oral testimony. Other data include Federal Bureau of Investigation memorandums, Virgin Islands Government annual reports, and newspaper reports, editorials, and commentaries.