Mitchelville to Recreate First Self Governed Freedman’s Village

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On Saturday, June 20th, the Mitchelville Preservation Project is going to hold a 150th anniversary Juneteenth Celebration at Fish Haul Park on Beach City Road.

Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day and it commemorates the issuance and first reading of General Order Number 3 by Union Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which became law on January 1, 1863, freed the slaves in states that were under rebellion and not in Union hands. In many locations in the South it was not enforced because of a lack of military presence. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and was signed by President Abraham Lincoln the next day.

Today, Juneteenth is recognized as a State Holiday or a Ceremonial Holiday in 43 states. To celebrate Juneteenth Day on Hilton Head Island this year, the Mitchelville Preservation Project will be reconstructing Mitchelville for one day only on June 20th.

Mitchelville was the first self-governing town of Freedmen in America. General Ormsby McKnight Mitchel set aside some land and provided lumber for homes when he established the town that would later bear his name. Residents of Mitchelville elected their own officials, passed their own laws, and had the first compulsory education law in the state. During the Juneteenth event, the Thirteenth Amendment will be read at different times during the day. There will also be readings by reenactors portraying General Mitchel, General Granger, and the Reverend Abraham Murchinson, who was the first Mayor of Mitchelville and also the pastor of the First African Baptist Church. Harriet Tubman and Clara Barton will also be in attendance.

Lavon Stevens will be the emcee for the event, as well as one of the musical performers along with the Voices of El Shaddai, the world renowned Marlena Smalls, Anita Prather, The Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters and others. There will be Artists in the Park, featuring Amiri Farris and Sonja Griffin-Evans. Food and beverage vendors will be selling 1860’s period type foods and beverages, including strawberry soda pop, which is traditional at Juneteenth celebrations.

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Highlighting the event will be the reconstruction of a day in the life of Mitchelville. A walking tour will take you to several partial structures, such as a Praise House and a home.

The walking tour will feature different experiences of a day in Mitchelville. Attendees will learn about gardening and herbal medicines at one stop. Another experience will involve some of the foods and a demonstration of sweet grass basket weaving. Another stop on the tour will feature teachers and students demonstrating educational practices in Mitchelville. You will see shrimp cast net making and quilting. The Praise house, where some religious practices were held, was also a central meeting place. In addition, a reenactment of a wedding will be performed as well.

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The event will be held from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM and will cost $10 for adults children under the age of 12 can attend free of charge. For tickets and additional information about the event please call the Mitchelville Preservation Project at (843) 255-7301 or purchase online at mitchelvillepreservationproject.org.

 

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