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October 1 marked the 136th anniversary of the historic 1878 ‘Fireburn’ labor revolt in Frederiksted, which saw four women, traditionally known as ‘queens’–Queen Mary Thomas, Queen Mathilda Macbean, Susanna “Bottom Belly” Abrahamson and Axeline “Queen Agnes” Salomon–organizing a significant uprising against the oppressive conditions under which they worked for their white Danish employers.
Under the leadership of the four heroines, much of St. Croix’s west end was torched in a blaze that lasted for five days. The women were eventually captured and imprisoned in Denmark, but their efforts would forever change the fate of black workers on St. Croix.
Last night, a moderately sized crowd gathered in downtown F’sted to remember the brave contributions of the queens. As part of the ceremony, a play titled “1878: Queen Mary and Dem” offered the playwright’s take, through the eyes of the queens, on the events leading up to the fireburn.
The VI Consortium has complied a photo gallery from last night’s celebration.
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