As we celebrated 150 years since the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in the Gullah/Geechee Nation, it is an interesting time to reflect on the songs that were sung leading up to this day of Jubilee and shoutin cuz hunnuh free! Just as the sound of songs drifts over the land into the marsh and seem to travel in syncopation with the waves in the Gullah/Geechee Nation, so did my thoughts travel concerning our ancestors, the journey to freedom and the soul elation.
As my thoughts traveled and I sang, I thought of the Gullah/Geechee Diaspora that ended up on an island in the Gulf Coast called “Galveston” and the days that I spent there. Things move slowly and folks move about appearing not to have a care. This small place that is in the midst of the water flow, is the place that was the first out west to get the word that freedom had come. It was as if they couldn’t have heard the ancestral drum. It was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been read that they received General Order No. 3 which decreed that the folks out in Texas and beyond would be freed:
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
Can you imagine the shouts that day? Can you imagine those that stopped to pray? Can you imagine the songs that they chose to sing? Can you think of what they thought freedom would bring?
The celebration of June 19, 1865 continued on for many years so that the spirit of freedom would be kept alive. They named the celebration “Juneteenth” and it came to be celebrated all over Texas and then further away and it is celebrated in the Gullah/Geechee Nation even today. Anytime we celebrate freedom, it is a time to sing, shout, and dance. So, may we teach our children of freedom whenever we get the chance.
In honor of all of our ancestors we continue to have a jubilee. Tenk Gawd fa any a day win hunnuh yeddi hunnuh free!