This year Emancipation Day on July 1st, will mark the 158th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Abolishment of Slavery on Sint Maarten. The Minister of Culture Youth & Sport, Honorable drs. Rodolphe Samuel will be hosting the celebration event, which will take place on July 1st, starting at 7:30 am starting with an Ecumenical Church Service at the St. Martin of Tours Church in Philipsburg.
A Cultural Manifestation will follow the church service, consisting of performances and speeches by dignitaries with the theme “no more auction block” at the “The Watkins House” on Frontstreet #113 that was once a slave depot.
Minister of Education Culture Youth & Sport, the Honorable Rodolphe E. Samuel is asking the public to come out, observe and celebrate in the church service and cultural manifestation. All persons attending are reminded to consider their safety and others by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing as they gather during this public event.
Emancipation Day, was the first public holiday established by the Parliament of Sint Maarten since becoming a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as such the Government of Sint Maarten would like the community to take a moment to reflect on our past triumphs and tribulations as a people. Many believed the road to our freedom on the Southern side of the island was easy and granted to us by the European powers. Contrary to popular belief, our ancestors fought for their freedom.
The strong and resilient Sint Maarteners of that era were a people that were aware that the former enslaved persons on the Northern part of the island were freemen as of 1848 and many of them ran away from the deplorable conditions that they were forced into. These actions by the enslaved persons seeking their freedom culminated in the Proclamation of the Abolishment of Slavery as the European powers knew that slave labor system could not continue as it did for so many years. Freedom for the enslaved ancestors was inevitable. There are many accounts of rebellion and resistance towards the oppressive slave system such as the Diamond 26 escape and the expressions of the Ponum Song and dance.
On the evening of Emancipation Day at 4:00 pm, filmmaker and artist, Jonathon van Arneman & the National Institute of Arts (NIA) will be premiering the film “Atlantis Rebirth” at the Caribbean Cinemas in Cole Bay. The Ministry of Education Culture Youth & Sport, via the Department of Culture is supporting the premiere of this local creative film as such, Minister drs. Rodolphe E. Samuel is encouraging the public to come out and view this local production. The film will be featured at the cinema from July 1st until July 4th and tickets for the film “Atlantis Rebirth” will be on sale at NIA and at Caribbean Cinemas.
Emancipation Day is a day to celebrate and come together as a people to foster the strength of our ancestors as we navigate through the present day challenges post COVID-19. We must continue to work collectively as one nation to regain economic momentum, by redefining the strengths of our legacy in order to pay homage to the ancestors that fought for their human rights to be a free people and to rectify the social injustices that were made against them, as we are called to build on those sacrifices made.
File Photo - Minister of Education Culture Youth & Sport, the Honorable Rodolphe E. Samuel laying wreath at Emancipation Day 2020 at the Freedom Fighter Roundabout.