The Moravian Church in Denmark and several Danish citizens have released a statement apologizing for the atrocities of slavery in the Virgin Islands, as its former territory reflects on the Transfer Centennial and 100 years under the American flag.
“Together with several other citizens of Denmark, we declare to be troubled about a deeply regrettable past in which the forefathers of the population on the U.S. Virgin Islands were enslaved and against their will were forced to labor for masters, many of whom came from Denmark. For this, although belated, we apologize in the spirit of love,” Rev. Dr. Jørgen Bøytler, pastor of the Moravian Church in Denmark, stated in the one-page statement. “The amount of human sorrow, pain and despair caused by the slavery cannot be imagined. The lack of respect of the human dignity of the people, who against their will were enslaved, is not comprehensible for us today. The injustice caused by our forefathers to the forefathers of the population of the islands is inexcusable.”
The statement, expected to be signed by church officials and private Danish citizens during worship services in Denmark on Sunday, was received by Senate President Myron D. Jackson and distributed to Moravian churches throughout the territory by Memorial Moravian pastor Dr. Winelle Kirton-Roberts. Those churches are expected to present it to their congregations. Jackson will read the apology at the Memorial Moravian Church on St. Thomas in a special Centennial Service at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday.
“The moral compass has been set straight by the Moravian Church’s apology to the people of the Virgin Islands for the role that Denmark played in the transatlantic slave trade as well as in the institution of slavery,” Jackson said. “I think it is appropriate that this apology comes on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Transfer. I commend the Moravian Church in Denmark for taking a bold step in this apology. Its message will resonate throughout our region and the world because it is the right step towards healing and reconciliation.”
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Hakim Hopkins wants to be clear: His place will always be a bookstore.
Black and Nobel, Hopkins’ shop at Broad and Erie, is weathering industry shifts. Brick-and-mortar black bookstores have become rarities, hit hard by online shopping and e-books. The African American Literature Book Club maintains a directory of black-owned bookstores, by state. Out of the three establishments listed for Pennsylvania, only two remain open: Hakim’s Bookstore and Gift Shop in West Philly, the oldest African American bookstore in the country, and Black and Nobel.
Hakim’s (Hopkins was named after its founder) is open part-time, four days a week. Black and Nobel — the second part of the name, commonly pronounced “Noble,” is really meant to sound like the estimable prize — is open seven days a week. However, books aren’t the only thing sold there.
Inside the store, shoppers can pick up DVDs, wooden sculptures, flags from countries throughout the Black Diaspora, clothing, smoothies and shea butter. The latter two are huge sellers; Black and Nobel manufactures its own sea moss drinks and products with plants imported from Caribbean islands like St. Lucia and Belize.
“Health and wellness keeps us open,” said Hopkins, “but the books are a foundation — everybody knows us as ‘the bookstore.’”
Both are products not readily available anywhere else nearby. “You don’t see that in the hood,” he explained. He offered, for comparison’s sake, the idea of a sushi spot opening on the corridor. “If someone came to Erie Avenue and opened a sushi restaurant, the line would go all the way to the bus stop.
“Because we’re a bookstore, it’s a big deal for people,” he said. “I’ll always sell books, whether it’s slow or fast.”
In an article for Black Perspectives, the blog for the African American Intellectual History Society, University of Baltimore history professor Joshua Clark Davis evaluated the black bookstore as not simply a book retailer, but as a locus for Black Power.
“African American booksellers were much more than small business owners,” Clark wrote. “In the late 1960s and 1970s, a successful black bookstore could bring together the campaigns for black politics, black arts, black studies, black community control, and black economic empowerment into the space of a single business. In so doing, these activist entrepreneurs realized Black Power’s goals for self-determination, and they helped to redefine what black businesses could and should be.”
Hopkins would concur with this argument, but he also thinks the digital age and political climate are changing the customer base. He pointed out that he doesn’t always know what color his online shoppers are. He set up a table at the Women’s March in DC, where he sold health products and tees.
“I sold out of everything, and it wasn’t too many of us there, as far as black people,” he said. “People were buying black culture that weren’t black… I think we’re living in a different time. People are coming together more now than ever.”
Before you enter the bookstore, vendors greet you outside.
Hopkins says online business is key. The store also maintains an active YouTube presence, where it has nearly 40,000 subscribers.
Hopkins stocks books from mostly independent authors and publishers. He felt inspired to go into the business after voracious reading pulled him through a dark period in his life. He doesn’t like to get into what had happened back then: “I try not to go too deep into negativity.” After participating in a six-week career development program at Temple in 2004, he started vending books downtown and built up the business until he eventually opened a storefront in 2007.
Before books, Hopkins wasn’t a stranger to vending. He had sold oils, tees and the like. “We come from that hustle mentality,” he explained. “Me and my team, we’ll be setting up at 9:30 to sell hot soup and products at the Gucci Mane show.”
Hopkins said he wasn’t unnerved by industry trends. “I’m not bitter at all. I helped develop a lot of talent and artists,” he said. “I can’t be scared, I have to be sturdy.”
He said the store’s evolution has been a natural one: “You don’t need to have a book everyday, but you do need to wash your body everyday, hopefully two or three times a day.”
Inside, it’s not unusual to hear Hopkins having long discussions with customers. The bookstore as a place to hang out and politic — Hopkins loves that. “It’s kind of dying breed, but we’re holding on to it,” he said. “So people can feel human and not nano, not technology. That’s where the world is going. That’s where the world is. We do a mix of both.”
The web domain WeShipToPrisons.com redirects to Black and Nobel’s website. The store, thanks in part to its eye-grabbing signage, has become known for this service. In October 2015, Hopkins told Philly Voice that he was shipping 50 packages to prisons daily. He couldn’t put his finger on a figure when we checked with him. “Every week it varies,” he said.
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Proof of Consciousness” (P.O.C) the Host of REVIVE!!! 3/08/2017
Topic: Since March is Women’s History Month, today is March 8th the REVIVE’s show topic is entitled “It’s a WOman’s World” we will highlight several women accomplishing their goals, breaking down barriers, and kicking down doors that seem to be impossible! We’re going to focus current events that focus on phenomenal women, the importance of representation, and the influence of media on people’s perception of women. I am asking all you guys listening to be apart of the conversation as we celebrate the contributions of women and how we can continue to move forward!
Aja Waters: Aja Waters is the Creator of Queens See Queens LLC; a Women’s Empowerment organization that educates, celebrates and inspires women to not only recognize the queen within themselves and other women. She’s passionate about education, entrepreneurship, and goal setting. Aja Waters is also a Self Development and Business Coach, Author, and Empowerment Speaker.
India Marie: India Marie Cross is a native of PG County, MD, although she spent most of her childhood in Philadelphia. She’s a Cheyney University alum and has a with a degree in theater. She has held the titles of Miss Cheyney University and Student Government President.. India is also a specialist in the United States Army Reserves. India aspires to create films that articulate the stories of African American women that are often untold. India is currently writing and editing her first feature film entitled “January”, the movie delves into the many different aspects of motherhood.
Hope Foy: Hope Foy a South West Philadelphia native, a graduate of Millersville University with a degree in Government and Political Affairs and a minor in African American Studies. After graduating, she returned to Philly to give back. Currently, she is the Legislative Assistant to sen. Joanne McClinton serving the 191st District office which focuses on excellent constituent services. This is just the beginning for Hope as she has set the career goal to one day run for public office.
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