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UVI Play Portrays St. Croix Native and Activist Hubert Harrison

St. Croix native Hubert Harrison

St. Croix native Hubert Harrison is widely considered a leader in the movement for equality and justice for African Americans during the early 20th century.  Harrison worked closely with W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and other activists, but never received the acclaim or notoriety as those leaders.

His story will now be told in a new play “Hubert Harrison,” written and directed by David Edgecombe, UVI associate professor of Communication.

The play will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21, and 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, at the University of the Virgin Islands Little Theater on the St. Thomas campus.  On St. Croix, the play will be staged at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, at the Savage Theater on the former Good Hope School campus, as part of UVI’s first Literary Festival and Book Fair.

“Hubert Harrison is a most brilliant West Indian, born on St.Croix, that history has so far overlooked. It's important that we return him to the place of prominence he deserves,” said Edgecombe. 

Born in 1883 on St. Croix, Harrison migrated to the United States at the age of 17, when the U.S. Virgin Islands were still under Danish rule.  In the United States, Harrison was shocked by lynchings and other forms of white supremacy that he had not witnessed as a boy growing up on St. Croix.  That led him to join the movement for social equality. From 1912-14 Harrison was the leading Black organizer in the Socialist Party of America.  After leaving the Socialist Party, Harrison began his own forum, speaking widely on topics of evolution, literature and racial aspects of World War I.  His outdoor talks and free speech efforts were instrumental in developing a Harlem tradition of militant street corner oratory. 

Along with his work on social justice, Harrison was a writer and educator.  In 1917 he founded the Liberty League and The Voice, the first organization and the first newspaper of the race-conscious “New Negro” movement.

 Harrison was described by labor leader A. Philip Randolph as “The father of Harlem Radicalism” and by historian Joel Augustus Rogers as “The foremost Afro-American intellect of his time.”

UVI graduate student Christopher Williams will portray Harrison in the production.  Other cast members include:  Douglas Iannucci, Franka Riviera, Paul Maynard Jr., Seymour Davis, Tamika Jude, Almira Turnbull, Callah Cuthbertson, Jhenessa Charles, Matthew Thomas, and  Che-Raina Warner.

Tickets for “Hubert Harrison” are $20 for adults and $7 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the University of the Virgin Islands Bookstore on both campuses.