In Denmark, where most of the public statues represent white men, two artists on Saturday unveiled the striking statue that portrays a 19th-century rebel queen who led a fiery revolt against Danish colonial rule in the Caribbean.
It’s being billed as Denmark’s first public monument to a black woman.
The sculpture was inspired by Mary Thomas, who with two other female leaders known as “Queens” unleashed an uprising in 1878 called the “Fireburn.” Fifty plantations and most of the town of Frederiksted on the west coast of St. Croix were torched, in what has been called the largest labor revolt in Danish colonial history.
“This project is about challenging Denmark’s collective memory and changing it,” the Virgin Islands artist La Vaughn Belle, one of two principal forces behind the statue, said in a statement. The unveiling comes at the end of a centennial year commemorating the sale by Denmark of three islands to the United States on March 3, 1917: St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. The price: $25 million. Though Denmark prohibited trans-Atlantic slave trafficking in 1792, it didn’t rush to enforce the ban. The rule took effect 11 years later, and slavery continued until 1848.
— Martin Selsoe Sorenson