published Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Call to action: Jubilee Day celebrants urged to remember past struggles

Warbit Lowery reads aloud the Emancipation Proclamation during Tuesday’s Jubilee celebration. The Chattanooga Hamilton County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted Jubilee Day 2013 on Tuesday at Hamlet Chapel CME.
Warbit Lowery reads aloud the Emancipation Proclamation during Tuesday’s Jubilee celebration. The Chattanooga Hamilton County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted Jubilee Day 2013 on Tuesday at Hamlet Chapel CME.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
WHAT IS JUBILEE DAY?

Jubilee Day, or Emancipation Day, is held each year on New Year's Day to commemorate President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which abolished slavery on Jan. 1, 1863.

Source: Chattanooga-Hamilton County Branch of NAACP

As modern-day Jews still remember the Passover, local black leaders said their community must hold sacred the annual Jubilee Day, which commemorates the formal end of American slavery.

"We must never forget, forfeit or falsify our past," said Cortney Warner, a member of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

About 50 people gathered at Hamlet Chapel CME Church on Tuesday morning for the NAACP's annual Jubilee Day celebration. The group sang hymns, listened to speakers, installed new officers and heard a seven-minute reading of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, issued 150 years earlier in the nation's capital.

But speakers said much work remains in fulfilling a promise of equality for all Americans. Several pointed to the November election as evidence that the country still has far to go with race relations and equity issues.

"We're better than this. Our promises are bigger and better than this," said keynote speaker Jerry Redman, managing partner of Second Life Chattanooga, a nonprofit committed to ending human sex trafficking in Southeast Tennessee.

Redman said he is the descendant of South Carolina slave owners and grew up in a culture of racism. Though much progress has been made in improving civil rights over the last century and a half, Redman said it's not enough until America's promise is a reality for all.

"Progress is not freedom," he said. "Only freedom is freedom. Freedom fully realized for everyone is freedom."

County Commissioner Greg Beck urged the congregation to move forward but also to remember events and struggles of the past. The journey toward equality should be a personal one, Beck said, and high-profile leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X shouldn't be the only ones to carry the burden.

Beck said that's especially important in the South as people continue to test whether the sons and daughters of former slaves can coexist with the sons and daughters of former slave owners.

"Freedom is not just for black people," Beck said. "Freedom is for everybody. Freedom is for you and me."

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement
400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.