MSMS students celebrate May Eighth Emancipation
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- May 8, 1865 union troops effectively freed enslaved African Americans in Columbus and Lowndes County and 156 years later students from Mississippi School for Math and Science commemorated some of the untold stories.
Dozens gathered at Sandfield Cemetery in Columbus as MSMS students re-enacted the contributions and legacies of African Americans who were freed on May 8th.
“I have presented this opportunity and I thought I should probably take this because this is something that not a lot of people get to do in their lives,” said MSMS student John May.
“It gives me a sense of the history of where I come from and You don’t hear that much about where you come from as an African American especially in Mississippi with so much of our history being erased and taken away from us,” said MSMS student Mackenzie Knighten.
Some of the untold struggles that African Americans faced in Lowndes County were commemorated by the students through songs, poems, and spoken words. Mississippi School for Math and Science history instructor Chuck Yarborough was pleased that his students presented vital pieces of history to the community.
“African American History is our history it’s the telling of a more complete story for this community that will enable us to have a more productive future. So when my students uncover African American stories they’re really just uncovering parts of our story that haven’t yet been explored,” said Yarborough.
Yarbrough said with a condensed COVID-19 schedule the students were still able to pull off the celebration in just eight weeks.
“I select a group of names that are good suspects for research and there in small groups of students groups of 3 do the primary document research into those people’s lives and they right an original script based upon all the research they uncovered and what you saw today, what the audience saw today was the product of that student research,” said Yarborough.
MSMS has held the May Eighth emancipation celebration for 15 years and Yarborough and his students plan to keep it going for years to come
“I’m very proud that we could give people a sense of where they came from that they might not be familiar with,” said Knighten.
The 8th of May Project and performances were recently featured an in HBO documentary.