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WATCH NIGHT” ANNIVERSARY 2017 WATCH NIGHT CELEBRATION THE OLDEST NATIONWIDE

“WATCH NIGHT” ANNIVERSARY 2017 WATCH
NIGHT CELEBRATION IS THE OLDEST NATIONWIDE CELEBRATION OF PARTIAL FREEDOM FOR
AFRICAN DESCENDANTS IN AMERICA
Who in America and the rest of the
world will commemorate the 155th Anniversary of Freedom Eve Watch Night on
December 31, 2017 and have a Jubilee Day Program on January 1, 2018? What
stories of chattel slavery and enslaved and non-enslaved Civil War freedom
fighting legacies will you teach?
PREACHERS, AFRICAN DESCENT CHRISTIANS,
TEACHERS, WATCH NIGHT PARTICIPANTS OF 2017 ETC. TELL THE CHILDREN THE TRUTH,
TELL YOURSELVES THE TRUTH ABOUT WATCH NIGHT. HOLD CELEBRATIONS ON JANUARY 1,
2018 LIKE JUNETEENTH.
WHAT
CHURCHES COULD ENSLAVED AND NON-ENSLAVED AFRICAN DESCENDENTS GO TO ON DECEMBER
31 1862 IN MISSISSIPPI TO WATCH FOR THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION TO TAKE
EFFECT THE FIRST SECOND OF JANUARY 1, 1863.
What Were They Watching for on Watch Night?
WHERE WAS HARIAM REVELS ON THE ORIGINAL WATCH NIGHT BEFORE HE
EVENTUALLY MIGRATED TO MISSISSIPPI? HE ORGANIZED UNITS OF AFRICAN DESCENT UNION
SOLDIERS BEFORE COMING AS A RESULT OF THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION.
“With
great expectations, African Americans looked to January 1, 1863, as the day of
jubilee. They congregated in churches and around “praying trees” in
secret locations across the country on the evening of December 31, 1862, to
“watch” for the coming of the Emancipation Proclamation; thus, the
tradition of “watch night” was born. “It is a day for poetry and
song, a new song,” wrote Frederick Douglass. “These cloudless skies, this
balmy air, this brilliant sunshine, (making December as pleasant as May), are
in harmony with the glorious morning of liberty about to dawn up on us.”
President Lincoln had promised a proclamation emancipating slaves in the states
in rebellion 99 days earlier; and on “watch night,” Americans of African
descent faithfully “watched” for his proclamation to be issued on the 100th
day. In Boston, Douglass reported that “a line of messengers was
established between the telegraph office and the platform at Tremont
Temple.” When what Douglass called the “trump of jubilee” was heard, “joy
and gladness exhausted all forms of expression, from shouts of praise to sobs
and tears.”
In Washington, Reverend Henry
M. Turner, pastor of Israel Bethel AME Church located on Capitol Hill, wrote
that it was in the churches of the District of Columbia where “expressions of
sentiments” for the Emancipation Proclamation could be heard.
“Watching” for the issuing of the final Emancipation Proclamation was not
simply “watching” for emancipation. African Americans were “watching” for
the opportunity to fight for freedom. The enslaved in the District had
already been emancipated, but they prayed for the freedom of all. Indeed,
they were willing to fight for the freedom of all. “Several colored men
in this city,” wrote Reverend Turner, “say they are now ready for the
battlefield. Abraham Lincoln can get anything he wants from the colored
people here from a company to a corps. I would not be surprised to see
myself carrying a musket before long.” Later that year, Turner would
recruit hundreds of men and become a chaplain in the Union Army.
It
is important that we in the 21st century understand that the
Emancipation Proclamation did not simply free the slaves. It declared
free slaves in the states in rebellion. It was in Lincoln’s words “a fit
and necessary war measure” for preserving the Union. Lincoln wrote in the
Proclamation that it “was warranted by the Constitution upon military
necessity.” The military necessity that led to the Emancipation
Proclamation meant that the help of African Americans was needed to save the
Union. Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, declared in
January 1863 that the “proclamation is also an authentic statement by the
Government of the United States of its inability to subjugate the South by
force of arms.” In the 19th century African Americans, the
leadership of the Confederacy, and the leadership of the Federal government
understood that the Emancipation Proclamation was a military necessity that
explicitly called on the help of African Americans.
Unequivocally,
Lincoln believed that African descent soldiers were critical to Union
success. The President
wrote to General Ulysses S. Grant in August 1863 stating that he believed
African descent soldiers were “a resource which if vigorously [sic] applied
now, will soon close the contest.” Grant replied stating that he shared
the President’s belief declaring that “by arming the negro, we have added a
powerful ally.” In response to a supporter who opposed emancipation and the
use of African descent soldiers, Lincoln wrote, “I know, as fully as one can know the opinions of others
that some of the commanders of our armies in the field, who have given us our
most important successes, believe the emancipation policy, and the use of
colored troops, constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the rebellion; and
that at least one of those important successes could not have been achieved
when it was, but for the aid of black soldiers. Among the commanders
holding these views are some who have never had any affinity with what is
called abolitionism, or with Republican party politics, but who hold them
purely as military opinion.”
Therefore, when we celebrate
and commemorate “watch night” and the 150th anniversary of the
issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, we should appreciate the importance
of African Americans in saving the Union and freeing themselves. Such an
appreciation is to understand the practical significance of the Proclamation as
the people who made the history understood it. We are commemorating the
“watching for” the hour that the government’s policy aligned with prayers of
liberation and celebrating African descent patriots being armed with the
Emancipation Proclamation. As we gather in churches, synagogues, and
mosques in prayer across the country on “watch night;” we should appreciate
that with faith and courage on December 31, 1862, Americans of African descent
were “watching for” the opportunity to secure “the blessings of liberty
for themselves and their posterity” under the banner of the U. S.
Constitution. With the support of the Federal government, they were
deployed as enforcers of the Emancipation Proclamation. Indeed, January
1, 1863 was a day of Jubilee not because the slaves were set free but because
the enslaved were called upon to save the Union and armed accordingly with the
legal authority to set themselves free.”
Ser
Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley, Founder/Curator Africa House Ya Providence Educulture
Museum and Gallery Natchez Mississippi.
Award Winning Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-CM Boxley
'You know that you are in trouble when you allow
the same people who have historically oppressed you tell you your history and
define your reality"... Dr. Runoko Rashidi
601-442-4719
P. O. Box 2188
Natchez, Ms. 39121
FB Ser Seshs Ab Heter-Boxley,
FB Forks of Roads America's Domestic "Slave"Market Natchez
Leader of Equal Human
Commemorations Campaign to
"Desegregate" History/Culture in Mississippi-Central Louisiana
Pertaining to Chattel Slavery, Black Civil War Freedom Fighters,
19th and 20th Centuries Civil Rights and Diversity.
Former Public Service Administrator
Veteran of San Francisco
Bay Area
Civil & Human Rights Movements
Former Ph.d Candidate Antioch Ohio
University Without Walls San Francisco
Holds California Community College Public
Services/Administration Credential
Masters Urban and Regional Planning &
B. A. Sociology California State University San Jose,
AA Business College of San Mateo Ca.,
Former Community College Instructor,
Former Multli-Culture Community Development CEO Redwood City Ca.,
Author & Publisher! Enabled Capacity Of Natchez Ms. Deacons For Defense & Justice
To Defend The Natchez People Who Waged "One Of The Most Successful
Economic Boycotts In Civil Rights History." Same Tri-part Methods were
Applied Throughout Mississippi to win modern Civil Rights!