Digitization for Access and Preservation
A Collaborative Project of the University of the Virgin Islands Libraries and the Virgin Islands Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums
(Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services)
HILL, VALDEMAR A., SR.
May 1, 1914
Valdemar A. Hill, Sr., was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, on May 1, 1914. His educational background includes: Charlotte Amalie High School; a summer session in General Economics at Columbia University in 1944; received an A.B. degree in Political Science from McKinley-Roosevelt College, Chicago, in 1947; and obtained an LLB degree from la Salle Extension University, Chicago, in 1952.
Mr. Hill entered the local government service as an employee in the Department of Health in 1932. In 1937 he was one of the organizers of the first political party in the Virgin Islands, THE PROGRESSIVE GUIDE. This organization was founded in order to make the masses of people aware of their new responsibilities under the 1936. Organic Act, which granted universal suffrage to the citizens of the Virgin Islands.
He served as the leader of the Progressive Guide from 1939 to 1945. During that time he was elected on the party's ticket to the Municipal Council of St. Thomas - St. John in 1940, thereafter was re-elected in 1942 and 1944. Mr. Hill sponsored Legislation for the first minimum wage law, which is known as "Hill's Wage and Hour Law". In order to get the Governor to approve this significant piece of social legislation, Mr. Hill led a March to Government House on behalf of the people, in 1941. He also sponsored legislation for evening school for adults, rent control, improving housing, sanitation, hospitalization, poor relief, and the first Anti-Discrimination act (1945).
During his term in the legislative body he served on all of the important committees, and was elected Chairman of the body in 1944, and Chairman of the Finance Committee from 1941 to 1943. He also served as Secretary of the Legislative Assembly of the Virgin Islands. In addition, Mr. Hill served as a member of the St. Thomas - St. John School Board for many years, and was Chairman of the Board in 1944. he also served as Chairman of the St. Thomas Library Commission for about 15 years.
When he resigned from the Legislative body at the end of 1945, the Legislative Assembly of the Virgin Islands adopted a Resolution, dated December 3, 1945, which stated in part:
"For his brilliant career and achievements in his local legislative body, the Municipal Council of St. Thomas and St. John; in the Virgin Islands Legislature, the Legislative Assembly of the Virgin Islands; in bodies representing the Virgin Islands in the outside world; and for the intrinsic benefits these have meant and still mean to the people of the Virgin Islands, the Legislative Assembly is resolved that some testimonial of the sentiments of the people of the Virgin Islands should be recorded and presented to Mr. Hill through their legislative body." Mr. Hill served for 20 years (1944-1964) as a Virgin Islands representative to Caribbean Conferences on regional economic and social development. In 1941 he was named "Man of the Year" by the Alumni Association of the Charlotte Amalie High School.
He served as Tax assessor and Water Commissioner for the Municipality of St. Thomas - St. John from 1946 to 1948. He was then appointed as Administrative Assistant to Governor William H. Hastie, (1948-1949), and served in the same capacity to Governor Morris F. DeCastro (1950-1954). He then became Legislative Consultant to the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, 1955-1957, and Special Consultant to the Judiciary Committee of the Legislature reviewing the V.I. Code 1959-1961. In 1961 he was appointed as Special Assistant to Governor Ralph M. Paiewonsky and became the first Commissioner of Housing and Community Renewal in 1962, which post he resigned in 1964. He is now a Business Consultant.
Mr. Hill has been a liberal political leader for many years advocating social and economic reforms for the benefit of the masses of people in the Virgin Islands. In his book, Angry Men Laughing Men, published in 1947, Wenzell Brown included Mr. Hill among the Caribbean Leaders. He stated:
"Finest ingredients in the swirling cauldron are the idealistic men of the Caribbean. Some of these are political and trade union leaders like Albert Gomes of Trinidad. Grantly Adams and Hugh Springer of Barbados, Remulo Bentancourt of Venezuela, Valdemar Hill of the Virgin Islands, Luis Munoz of Puerto Rico, and scores of others . . . These are the hope of the Islands and the lands which border the Caribbean to the South".
During his political career4, Mr. Hill was a leader in organizing many liberal political movements in the Islands, including the Liberal Party in 1948; the Unity Part in 1952; he was instrumental in the merger of the Unity Part and Democratic Party in 1963 and assisted in drafting the first Election Code for the Virgin Islands in 1963.
In 1967, in commemoration of the semicentennial of the Transfer of the Virgin Islands from Denmark to the United States of America, Mr. Hill published a book, A Golden Jubilee covering the historical events, economic and social progress in the Islands. At present he is completing another book which is entitled Black Destiny in the Virgins. He is a member of the Cathedral Church of All Saints, where he has served as Senior Warden, and is now Vestryman. He belongs to the American Political Association, the International Platform Association, and the St. Thomas Lions Club.
In 1970 Mr. Hill was a candidate for gubernatorial race for first elected governor. Even though unsuccessful in the bid, he, however, fulfilled a life dream by entering the race.
His latest work, Rise to Recognition (1971) is an informal history of the social, political and economic progress of black islanders.
At present Mr. Hill is serving as Legislative Consultant to the Legislature of the Virgin Islands and also as St. Thomas District Chairman of the Democratic Party.
His marriage to Florence nee Molyneaux, produced eight children all of whom are currently employed in outstanding positions.
St. Croix Campus Library
Ralph M. Paiewonsky Library