FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2012
Contact: Anthony Hawkins
METROPOLITAN AME PRESENTS DEC. 31 DRAMATIZATION OF FIRST “FREEDOM’S EVE”
CELEBRATES 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF SIGNING OF EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION
WASHINGTON– The date was Dec. 31, l862. The enslaved African Americans had been promised freedom after hundreds of years of painful bondage and a civil war. Enslaved and free persons alike gathered to await the news that the Emancipation Proclamation would become law at midnight and their long-awaited freedom would finally be realized. It was a night never to be forgotten.
On Monday, Dec. 31. the 150th anniversary of the celebration of “Freedom’s Eve” and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation the following day, Rufus Tiefing Stevenson, noted Africanist and griot, and other members of Metropolitan AME Church will dramatize that memorable occasion at a Watch Meeting Night Service. The Rev. Ronald E. Braxton will deliver the sermon that will accompany the dramatization. The program begins at 10:30 p.m. Metropolitan is located at 1518 M St. NW. and the community is invited.
Freedom’s Eve was inspired by the Watch Night Service tradition. Although Watch Night services can be traced back to 18th Century Europe and are now observed in churches of all denominations around the world, Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor II, editor of The Christian Recorder, stated, “in the black community, the Watch Meeting Night worship began with …the AME church and with the founder, Rt. Rev. Richard Allen.”
Pastor Braxtron added that, “Metropolitan had already been in existence for 25 years and the AME Denomination had been founded 47 years before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed,” pointing out that the historic Metropolitan would begin a year-long celebration of its 175th anniversary in 2013.