The year 2013 marks a historical celebration.
At noon Jan. 1, 2013, Liberty County will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Liberty County, with her rich history, is one of the few counties in Georgia that still observes the signing of the historical document. The Emancipation Proclamation Observance Day celebration started many years ago at the Crossroads community in Riceboro. Dedicated leaders and members of the community have kept the observance-day program at the forefront of community celebrations.
The celebration is returning to its roots in 2013 by being held at Riceboro’s First African Baptist Church, the oldest African-American church in Liberty County. The theme for the Emancipation Proclamation Observance Day program is, “Forward – Celebrating 150 Years.”
One of Liberty County’s most prolific speakers, state Rep. Al Williams of Midway, is the keynote speaker. He represents District 165 and also serves as chairman of the deacon’s ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Richmond Hill.
Williams and the celebration go way back. As a high-school senior in 1965, he made a presentation at the Emancipation Proclamation Observance Day program. The upcoming event will mark the third time he has been Liberty’s speaker for the day. He said the first time was in 1966 at New Zion Baptist Church in Riceboro, and he later spoke at the Midway First Presbyterian Church. He also has been Emancipation speaker in McIntosh, Appling, Bacon and Ware counties and will speak at 4 p.m. Jan. 1 in Glynn County.
“I am honored and humbled and consider it one of my greatest speaking opportunities,” he said. “During the early years of the Emancipation celebration, I remember marching as a Boy Scout for Troop 597, where James Smith was scoutmaster, and the excitement about the parade that used to precede the celebration.”
For additional information about the Liberty County Emancipation Proclamation Observance Day, call committee President the Rev. Hermon Scott at 368-2258 or publicity chairperson Lana Walthour at 369-3407.
Anderson is the author of “Dare to Soar” and “Lack of Knowledge.”