Local performance shares historical significance of May 8th

Emancipation Celebration

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – For over a decade, students at the Mississippi School for Math and Science have turned their research project into a historical reenactment providing context surrounding The Eighth of May Emancipation Celebration.

Sbwp9591“Lowndes County was 70.8% enslaved when the civil war began. Mississippi was just over 55% enslaved when the civil war began,” Yarbrough said.

The end of the civil war sparked new opportunities for enslaved African Americans to walk in their Freedom. And though the South was delayed in receiving the news of Freedom, the message eventually marched here to Lowndes County.

“Essentially emancipation arrived in an area when the Union troops arrived, and here in Columbus, the Union troops arrived on May 8, 1865,” Yarbrough said.

According to Chuck Yarbrough, the director of Research and Performance Projects at MSMS, the May 8 celebration in Lowndes County even welcomed visitors from surrounding towns.

“We have newspaper accounts of ball games, speakers, and picnics and food, and even as late as the 1990s, there were churches out in the Prairie that celebrated May 8 by beating drums all day long in celebration,” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough said though strides were made to free the enslaved, there are more steps to be taken.

“It didn’t mean equality necessarily for the formerly enslaved people, but it was a step forward,” Yarbrough said.

And now MSMS students, along with the Columbus Middle School choir, are continuing to inform the community by reenacting a local date to remember.

“William Faulkner said the past is never dead; it is not even past, so taking a more complete look at our community’s past empowers us to make great decisions and better decisions about our present and our future,” Yarbrough said.

The free event of The Eighth of May Emancipation Celebration Research and Performance Project will begin Monday night at 6 p.m. at the Sandfield Cemetery.

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