Crucian native Angela Golden Bryan is the author of two books selected for the 22nd Annual Library of Congress Book Festival in Washington, DC. The Virgin Islands Community Foundation, with support from the Department of Tourism, represented the U.S. Virgin Islands as an Affiliate Territory at the September 3 event.
Bryan’s books, “James and the Fireburn” and “Fireburn the Screenplay,” were the children’s and adult books selected as the Nominated Best Reads for 2022 as part of the festival.
“James and the Fireburn” is an anti-bullying human rights story inspired by the USVI event and focuses on children making wise choices while educating the reader about local Caribbean history. The book takes difficult topics and presents them in a fun and poetic way, making the story and the lesson easier to understand and remember. It’s age-appropriate and encourages kids to stand up for what’s right rather than remain silent, Bryan said.
“Fireburn the Screenplay” is also based on the story of St. Croix and the USVI workers’ revolt of 1878. Bryan pays tribute to the leadership of the three “queens” who spoke out against the unfair treatment of emancipated workers . Passion, purpose and revenge are woven into Bryan’s vivid descriptions and historical references for the reader to experience.
According to the CFVI press release, the first National Book Festival in 2001 has become one of the most important literary events in the United States, bringing together best-selling authors and thousands of readers for lectures, panel discussions, autograph sessions and many other activities.
CFVI participated in the festival for the first time to represent USVI for literacy and reading and as a potential tourist destination for visitors. Child and family attendance has increased from 25,000 in 2001 to over 200,000 in 2019.
“The CFVI is delighted to be part of the Festival, which returns after being suspended since the pandemic. This will be a unique opportunity to educate young people and adults about the U.S. Virgin Islands, including our local culture, heritage and history,” said CFVI President Dee Baecher-Brown. “Together with our partners at USVI Tourism, we appreciate this opportunity to raise awareness of the rich cultural and environmental treasures of the Virgin Islands and attract increasing numbers of visitors to the many varied wonders of our islands.”
Prior to Bryan’s presence at the Festival, she traveled to St. Croix in August to visit some of the local schools to screen her documentary, as well as visits to elementary schools to read her children’s book. “The in-person events are in conjunction with the literacy campaign that my nonprofit sponsors,” she said.
“I am grateful to Stephanie Chalana Brown, Director of Cultural Education at the VI Department of Education, who took me to the schools, helped me take pictures and helped me accomplish my visit. It was a special joy for me to interact with the students and to visit Claude O. Markoe Elementary School, where my mother, the late Martha L. Golden, taught for many years and where I attended first grade. said Bryan.
“The whole storytelling journey has been very fulfilling for me,” Bryan said. She started in elementary school by reciting poetry to the public. She later acted on stage throughout high school and college, then continued acting in television and film as an adult.
“Now I write books and produce movies. There’s no way I could have predicted any of this,” Bryan said. “I’m so grateful to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands for being such an important part of my journey and helping me share my stories far beyond what I could have done on my own.”
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