Residents Friday celebrated emancipation in cultural songs and dance in the city’s annual “Festival of Freedom.” Hosted by Florida A&M and the Carrie Meek – James N. Eaton Sr. Southeastern Regional Black Archives, the citywide “Freedom’s Eve Jubilee” featured speeches and performances to mark the Emancipation Proclamation. Many gathered under shade trees and tents to enjoy the festivity while listening to sounds of Tallahassee’s 5 o’clock traffic.
“This occasion is used to honor our own social world,” said Ada Burnette, president of the Ladies Arts and Social Club.
Charlotte Dullidan of the Tallahassee Red Hat Sisters called the event a “blessing” and praised its organization. She also commended young African-Americans for attending.
To keep the crowd uplifted, a musical selection was made by the Legacy Concert Chorale, a group of Florida A&M alumni. As they harmonized the tunes to the songs, hands were clapping and feet were tapping as the crowd nodded their heads to the beats.
“I’m excited to see so many young folks in our community out here tonight, this is the place to be this evening,” said FAMU alumnus Alfred “Al” Lawson, a former Florida senator.
FAMU professor Yanela Gordon reminded the crowd of the importance of dance for African-Americans in self-expression after slavery. On that cue, the Bethel A.M.E. Church Liturgical Dancers graced the atmosphere with an elegant inspirational dance.
“I’m so glad I came out, I was very impressed with all the speakers that I’ve heard today,” said Eric Mayberry, a computer information systems junior at Florida A&M.
The Bahamian Junkanoo Rhythm Rusher’s Band ended the evening’s event with drums that brought everyone to their feet dancing to the sound of music.
“This was my second year coming out and it’s getting better every time. I’m glad I came and I will definitely be back next year and all the years to follow,” said Eleanor Homer, a Thomasville resident.