For the fourth year, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission will host an afternoon traditional Watch Night service, “Freedom’s Eve: A Gullah Geechee Watch Night Emancipation Day Celebration.”
The 12 p.m. service on Dec. 31 will be held at Morris Brown AME Church, 13 Morris St., in Charleston.
This event is a part of the commission’s initiative to partner with Gullah Geechee communities in Charleston and across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida to raise awareness about a celebration that is nearly 160 years old.
The New Year’s Eve and Watch Night service commemorates Jan. 1, 1863, when enslaved people emerged from bondage as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation.
On Dec. 31, 1862, Gullah Geechee people gathered in praise houses and churches to await a new year, marking an end to slavery when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on Jan. 1.
This date is remembered as Freedom’s Eve and many churches across the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor use the New Year’s Eve Watch Night Service to honor this date.
To commemorate the tradition, this year’s hybrid event will showcase performances by Teli Shabu & The Magic of African Rhythm, Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters, storyteller Dontavius Williams, Melba Ayco and Northwestern Tap Connection and liturgical dancer Diamin Hill.
The event is hosted by Gullah preservationists Geechee Experience and Dr. Jessica Berry and sponsored by the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor National Heritage Area, in partnership with the International African American Museum, Emancipation Proclamation Association of Greater Charleston and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.