Roots of Freedom: Omnira Productions Juneteenth Celebration, June 18, 2011
JUBILEE: CELEBRATING THE END OF U.S. SLAVERY, SAT. JUNE 19, 2010, 10 A.M. TO 12:30 PM @ the LAKE MERRITT BOATHOUSE PICNIC AREA.
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For hundreds of years enslaved Africans and African Americans prayed for freedom. Jubilee, as they referred to the coming of that great day, arrived with Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
To Wanda Ravernell, host of Omnira Projects’ Jubilee celebration on June 19 at the Lake Merritt Boathouse Picnic Area, the end of slavery was nothing less than a moral national victory. “I read that the news was tapped out over telegraph lines and as word got out, there were spontaneous celebrations, dancing in the streets and prayers at churches,” she said.
Most of these annual commemorations, celebrated by black and white alike, died out by the 1920s. But, 145 years later, the Texas festival known as Juneteenth (because the news of freedom arrived more than two years later, June 19, 1865) appears to be the most prominent of the freedom festivals that remain.
“I believe that we are Freedom’s Children,” said Ravernell, who is African American. “We owe it to our ancestors to give up a little time in their memory for their sacrifice.”
The celebration will include a procession led by sacred African drumming, chants in the various faiths of the African captives, and very old spirituals. In addition, because American Indians were enslaved first, there will be chants from First Nation representatives as well, Ravernell says.
This is Omnira Projects third outing at the lake Merritt Boathouse area.
“I held a similar program at my house for several years, but it makes a difference to have it outside. I read thatLincoln announced the Emancipation outside under a tree. Perhaps that has something to do with it.”