U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Kenneth Mapp is the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which was devastated by both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria last month.

President Donald Trump said he would try to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands, which includes St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and Water Island, on Tuesday.

Trump is heading to Puerto Rico and he is expected to meet with Governor Kenneth Mapp during his trip. Trump recently thanked Mapp for his support during recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

After Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria hit the islands, Mapp told NPR’s “Here and Now” that the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is a U.S. territory, needed help from the federal government.

I had three islands — St. John, St. Thomas and Water Island — devastated by Hurricane Irma, and St. Croix was our base for restoration and recovery. And then here came Maria, and Maria decided, well, she wanted a piece of the Virgin Islands as well, and so a good section of St. Croix on the western end really got hammered hard. I mean the island was affected across the board, but the western end got hammered hard. So we’re really right now making sure we check on our folks, make sure they’re sheltered, they’re fed, they’re secure. We have a full curfew in the territory today. And I’m here working with the FEMA folks trying to make sure that we’re reprovisioning more stuff to make sure we can feed our folks, give them water, and then we will turn our sight towards recovery, and the rebuilding of the entire U.S. Virgin Islands.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Kenneth Mapp Was Born in Brooklyn

Mapp was born on November 2, 1955 in Brooklyn, New York, to Al Mapp and Vashti Hewitt Mapp. He has four siblings, according to his official bio.

Mapp moved to Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1961, where he was raised by his maternal grandmother, Almina N. Hewitt, in Estate Rattan.

He graduated from St. Croix Central High School in 1973 and then attended New York City Community College of City University of New York and the University of the Virgin Islands, though he never earned a degree.

Mapp served as lieutenant governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands from 1995 to 1999.

He completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School and then received a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

2. Kenneth Mapp Worked for the New York Police Department

Kenneth Mapp joined the New York City Police Department after he graduated from high school in 1973 and was assigned to the 83rd Police Precinct in Brooklyn, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News. He was also a police officer in the Virgin Islands and was president of the Virgin Islands Police Benevolent Association.

3. Kenneth Mapp Ran for Governor in 2010 But Lost

Mapp ran for governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 2010 gubernatorial election. He ran as an Independent and his running mate was Malik Sekou, a professor and department chair at the University of the Virgin Islands.

Mapp and Sekou ran on a platform of reducing crime and improving education.

Incumbent Governor John de Jongh defeated Mapp with 56.27 percent of the vote.

4. Kenneth Mapp Was Elected Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2014

Kenneth Mapp ran for governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 2014 gubernatorial election. His running mate was Osbert Potter, a former Virgin Islands senator. Mapp received 47.47 percent of the vote, just short of the 50 percent required for a victory. A runoff was held between him and Donna Christian-Christensen on November 18, 2014, two weeks after the general election.Mapp won with nearly 64 percent of the vote.

5. Kenneth Mapp Is a Member of the AME Church

In a 2016 interview with The Christian Recorder, Kenneth Mapp talked about his faith and growing up in the AME Church.

It was through my grandmother, Almina N. Hewitt, and her husband, Cecil Hewitt that my family joined the AME Church. They were originally Moravians. In the Virgin Islands, each month when they did baptisms, there was a particular Sunday in the month that was set aside for the baptism of people of color—Blacks…and a Sunday reserved for the white Danes. My grandmother had let my Aunt Priscilla’s baptism slip away, so time was of the essence. My grandmother and grandfather were very involved in caring for the church and helping with its maintenance.

She approached the minister to have my aunt baptized on the Sunday set aside for the Danes and the minister was quite offended that my grandmother would think that she would bring this black baby and be able to stand up there next to the Danes and get the baby baptized. After he scolded her, she gave the minister a good tongue lashing and then started to remove everything in the church her husband and her children had donated and walked out the door, never to return. Hamilton Jackson, at the time, helped with the establishment of the St. Luke AME Church in Grove Place. I believe he even donated the land for the church. They ended up becoming AMEs and actually helped to establish Bethel AME Church in Christiansted. The church honored my grandfather’s efforts by putting his name in the wall.

That’s how the whole family became “AMErs [sic].” When we moved to New York in the 1940s they ended up at the Bridge Street AME Church in Brooklyn; and of course, I was born in 1955 and my youngest aunt and my mother raised me up to the minister and I was baptized into the church. That’s how I became an AME.

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