SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – A small daily newspaper in the U.S. Virgin Islands whose owner credited past generations of literate slaves for its survival is closing after 180 years in print.
The St. Croix Avis, which published its ﬁrst edition in 1844, can no longer compete with social media and digital newspaper subscription services, according to owner and publisher Rena Brodhurst.
"That is an impossible mission we are unable to fulﬁll," she said in a statement published Sunday.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the paper would stop publishing, although Brodhurst said the company would soon exhaust its ﬁnal shipment of newsprint.
"I give thanks to the Moravian Church that insisted the enslaved learn to read, write, and comprehend. The St. Croix Avis would never have been possible without that concept of ensuring a literate Black population," she said.
The paper is based on the island of St. Croix, home to some 41,000 people, the majority of them Black of slave descent.
Slavery in the Danish West Indies was abolished in 1848.
When it was founded, the St. Croix Avis published most of its content in Danish until shifting primarily to English after the U.S. government bought the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.
In the years following its ﬁrst publication, the St. Croix Avis covered multiple weather events, including an apparent hurricane that hit the neighboring island of St. Thomas in 1867. A portion of the headline read, "Frightful Loss of Lives and Property!!!"
The paper also covered events such as Citizenship Day, remarking that "the catching of the greased pig afforded much merriment to onlookers."
Brodhurst thanked the community for supporting the St. Croix Avis in her open letter as she lamented its closure.
"What an incredible journey we have had together, learning, growing, rejoicing, and crying together," she wrote. "The road we traveled together has been monumental."