A Crucian native, Angela Golden Bryan has authored two books that were selected for the 22nd Annual National Book Festival at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The Virgin Islands Community Foundation, with support from the Department of Tourism, represented the US Virgin Islands as an affiliated territory at the September 3 event.
Bryan’s books James and the Fireburn and Fireburn the Screenplay were the children’s and adult books chosen as the festival’s designated Great Reads for 2022.
James and the Fireburn is an anti-bullying human rights story inspired by the USVI event, focusing on children making wise decisions while also educating the reader about local Caribbean history. The book takes challenging subjects and presents them in a fun and poetic way, making the story and 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 rebelled against the unfair treatment of the 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 Passion, purpose and revenge are woven into Bryan’s vivid descriptions and historical references for the reader to experience.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 inaugural National Book Festival in 2001 has become one of the most prominent literary events in the United States, bringing together bestselling authors and thousands of readers for lectures, panel discussions, book signings and many other activities.
CFVI participated in the festival for the first time to represent the USVI for literacy and reading and as a potential tourist destination for visitors. Visits from children and families have multiplied from 25,000 in 2001 to over 200,000 in 2019.
“CFVI is delighted to be a part of the festival returning after being put on hold since the pandemic. This will be a unique opportunity to engage both young people and adults with information about the US Virgin Islands, including our local culture, heritage and history,” said CFVI President Dee Baecher-Brown. “With our partners at USVI Tourism, we appreciate this opportunity to raise awareness of the Virgin Islands’ rich cultural and environmental treasures and to attract a growing number of visitors to the many diverse 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 and visited elementary schools to read her children’s book. “The in-person events are related to the literacy campaign my nonprofit sponsors,” she said.
“I am grateful to VI Department of Education’s Director of Arts Education, Stephanie Chalana Brown, who showed me around to the schools, helped with photography, and gave me all round assistance in conducting my visit. It was a particular pleasure for me to interact with the students and attend 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 began reciting poetry in front of an audience in elementary school. She later acted on stage through high school and college, and then acted in television and film as an adult.
“Now I write books and produce films. There was no way I could have predicted that,” Bryan said. “I am so grateful to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands for being such a big part of my journey and for helping me share my stories far beyond what I could have done on my own.”
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