Denmark Memorializes Black “Rebel Queen” Mary Thomas

by Yah Yah

Copenhagen has honored “Rebel Queen” Mary Thomas by placing a statue of her in Denmark’s capital.

The statue marks the first statue of a Black woman in Denmark and was created by Danish artist Jeannette Ehlers and Virgin Island native La Vaughn Belle.

“I Am Queen Mary represents a bridge between the two countries. It’s a hybrid of our bodies, nations and narratives. It extends the conversation beyond the centennial year and gets people to really question what is their relationship to this history.  Who we are as a society is largely about who we remember ourselves to be. This project is about challenging Denmark’s collective memory and changing it,” La Vaughn Belle said in a statement.

Jeannette Ehlers adds: “What’s unique about this sculpture is not only its size and thematics but that it was not commissioned. It is we, two artists, who are pushing into the public space with our artwork. A space in which 98% of the statues in Denmark are representing white males. So like the Queens of the Fireburn took action and fought against the oppressive colonial system, we are confronting present day’s racism and Eurocentrism by claiming a space for our narratives.”

Queen Mary was one of the leaders of the 1878 “Fireburn” labor riot on St. Croix.

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