Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk, will perform Friday during the fifth annual Freedom’s Eve: A Gullah Geechee Watch Night and Emancipation Day Celebration at Morris Street Baptist Church in Charleston | Photos provided

Morris Street Baptist Church will host the fifth annual Freedom’s Eve: A Gullah Geechee Watch Night and Emancipation Day Celebration at noon Friday to commemorate the night enslaved people celebrated the dawn of freedom.

On Jan. 1, 1863, enslaved people throughout the slave-holding states emerged from bondage with the Emancipation Proclamation. Since then, people of African descent have gathered in places of worship for a watch night service to await the new year.

The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission is carrying on the watch night tradition with a daytime version of the event that will showcase the cultural heritage within Gullah Geechee communities across coastal North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida.

The event at Morris Street Baptist Church, 13 Morris St., will include performances by the McIntosh County Shouters of Townsend, Ga., Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk of Beaufort, master storyteller Lillian Grant-Baptiste of Savannah, and Deninufay Dance Co. of Charleston. Gullah preservationist and author Jessica Berry will serve as the event’s emcee. A similar event will be held at the Warner Temple AME Zion Church, 620 Nixon St., in Wilmington, N.C.

McIntosh County Shouters of Townsend, Ga., will perform Friday during the fifth annual Freedom’s Eve: A Gullah Geechee Watch Night and Emancipation Day Celebration at Morris Street Baptist Church in Charleston | Photos provided

The Charleston event is free and open to the public in person or online. Seating is limited for in-person attendance. Registration is strongly advised via Eventbrite. To attend in-person or online, go to Eventbrite: Freedom’s Eve Charleston Celebration

The event is sponsored by the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor National Heritage Area in partnership with the International African American Museum (IAAM), Emancipation Proclamation Association of Charleston, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture and the South Carolina A.M.E Church Charleston District.


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