On, July 1st, Emancipation Day, was commemorated on the island of Saba as a joint effort between the Public Entity Saba and Saba Heritage Foundation/Sabarc.
The day's program consisted of 3 events, namely; a lecture for Civil Servants by Saba Heritage Center Director, Angus Martin in the morning, an official commemoration ceremony at the Government Administrative Building at midday and an exhibition at the Saba Heritage Center in the evening.
During Martin's lecture entitled "Slavery on Saba" he gave an overview of of when enslaved persons were first brought to the island, when they were first officially recorded in the census, marine marroonage used by the enslaved to escape the institution of slavery on Saba and other ways in which the enslaved experienced slavery until emancipation. The civil servants in attendance later had the opportunity to ask questions and delve a bit deeper into topics that had stood out to them.
The midday ceremony started with the ringing of the bells of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches in The Bottom, followed by the Saba Anthem by Miliegqia Hughes, Thioni Wigley and Kadesha Daniels and a word of prayer by Julieta Woods. Commissioner of Culture, Rolando Wilson then gave a brief statement on the importance of the day as it relates to the past and knowing the history of the enslaved persons on Saba and also the need for Sabans to continue to fight for the freedom of all people. Long-time educator, Franklin Wilson then read the Emancipation Proclamation, which was read from the Governor's Mansion in 1863. This was followed by an intergenerational reading of 200 of the 702 names of the emancipated persons by Carmen Simmons, Monique Wilson, Pauline Every, Edsel Lake, Elsa Peterson, Hazel Durand, Nevaeh Peterson and Lionel Charles and a moment of silence for all that enslaved persons had had to endure.
Finally, the day ended with the opening of the Emancipation Day Exhibition, which will be up for approximately one week. During the event the Governor Jonathan Johnson affirmed the need for the historic day to be acknowledged and for the history of Saba to be passed on to future generations.
This is the first year that Emancipation Day was celebrated on Saba. A team consisting of Angus Marin, Elsa Peterson and Lysanne Charles guided the day's event and all three agreed that while they were pleased with the outcome, they hope that the awareness and celebrations around this significant day continues to grow into the future.