Cyril Emanuel King was a charismatic man, born on April 7, 1921, on the island of Saint Croix, United States Virgin Islands, and still remembered there for his uncountable services to the community.
King was the first black man to work in the U.S. Senator’s office. His remarkable political career began as a government aide for Senator Hubert Humphrey, and eventually reached the status of the second elected governor of the Virgin Islands.
During the 12 years that King served as government staff, he undertook many crucial for the U.S. projects, including a prospective five-week study of Virgin Islands Government employees. King’s hard work paid off and led to that study becoming the base upon which a classified personnel system was formed. He was also the deputy working to secure Congressional action to amend the Organic Act of the Virgin Islands Constitution.
Before becoming a politician, he served for 20 months in the U.S. Army during World War II and graduated from American University with a science degree in public administration. Later on, he also received an honorary degree in Roger Williams College in Bristol and was awarded by Hilbert College in Buffalo with the very first Hilbert Medal for his humanitarian contributions to the U.S. and the Virgin Islands.
Cyril E. King’s early education and army services, as well as impeccable dedication to government work, led to him becoming the government secretary of the Virgin Islands in 1971. During his service as the secretary, he went on a five-week African tour, where he represented the State Department. After one year of serving as a government secretary, he was elected as a Senator there.
Sadly, King was diagnosed with cancer, an inoperable stomach tumor. A bypass was placed in his stomach so he could eat and live a little longer. When King turned 56 years old, he was found dead in his office after a long battle with cancer. He did not even complete his term but is forever remembered as a man of service, a man behind people’s rights in the territory.
His name lives on in the monumental changes and contributions he made during his time in the government. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, you can find an airport named in King’s honor, and it’s considered one of the busiest in the eastern Caribbean.