Place Category: Memorial & Statue
This monument honors the leaders of the 1878 rebellion against the Danish Government – Queen Mary, Queen Agnes, and Queen Josia, who fought for freedom and workers’ rights.
In 1848, slavery was abolished in the Danish West Indies. However, labor rules, salaries, and work conditions on the plantations were harsh and unbearable, almost the same as during slavery. Enslaved people who worked on the plantations started to leave, seeking better employment conditions. The authorities did all they could to prevent them from going, limited their travel passports, and keeping the working conditions unhuman.
Frustration, anger, and demanding freedom sparkled the riots on the island of St. Croix in the Danish West Indies. The people were led by three women, also known as the Three Queens: Queen Mary, Queen Agnes, and Queen Josia. The rebels confronted the military, setting fires on houses, mills, fields, corps, and stores on about 50 plantations, burning down more than half of the city of Frederiksted. The Danish military put down the riots, killing one hundred black people, giving some people death sentences and others a life sentence of hard work. The three Queens were among these; they were sent to a women’s prison in Copenhagen but a few years later returned to the island to complete their punishment there.
The monument was dedicated in 2005 and created by the artist Richard Hallier. It depicts the Three Queens standing in a triangle facing out, holding a lantern, a harvesting knife, and a burning torch. They are ready to fight for the freedom of their people. The figures are standing on rocks and a water fountain around them.
A plaque on the side tells their story:
“In 1878, three former slave ladies on St. Croix led an
insurrection against the Danish Government for improved
working and living conditions. During this action, a major
portion of Frederiksted was destroyed by fire. This revolt
is known today as “FIREBURN” and the ladies are
renowned as “Queen Mary, Queen Agnes, and Queen
Matilda” – The Three Queens of the Virgin Islands.”
On March 31st, 2018, a statue of Queen Mary was dedicated in Copenhagen. “I Am Queen Mary” was created by the Danish artist Jeannette Ehlers and the Virgin Islands artist La Vaughn Belle. It was the first public monument to a black woman in the city.
Address: Dronningens Gade, Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas 00802, US Virgin Islands
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Photo credit - Gruepig @ Wikipedia