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Learning About Our Ancestors Segment, Part 5 - Alton A. Adams, Queen Visited BVI

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Mr. Alton Augustus Adams, Sr, born in 1889 on the island of St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies, is remembered as the first black bandmaster in the United States Navy, when he was appointed as such in 1917.

“Although naval policy at the time restricted blacks to menial jobs, Adams and his all-black ensemble provided a bridge between the local population and their all-white naval administrators. His memoirs, edited by Mark Clague, with a foreword by Samuel Floyd, Jr., reveal an inspired activist who believed music could change the world, mitigate racism, and bring prosperity to his island home.” [The Memoirs of Alton Augustus Adams, Sr., First Black Bandmaster of the US Navy]

His music was performed by the bands of John Philip Sousa and Edwin Franko Goldman and his march "The Governor's Own" (1921) appears as the first selection on the bicentennial album Pride of America.

Bandmaster Adams' story and his music underwent a renaissance in recent years with the United States Navy Band rediscovering his compositions and his memoirs being included in a book published in 2007. We know him best here in the territory as the composer of our Virgin Islands March.

On another topic: Queen Elizabeth of England has two birthdays every year (lucky her). Her actual birthday was April 21 but she will celebrate her 90th with the nation officially on June 10, 2016. The Queen’s official birthday date does change each year but is generally held on a Saturday in June.

The Queen visited our neighbors in the British Virgin Islands in 1977. To bring that story to life is Valerie Sims of www.VintageVirginIslands.com .

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