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A celebration of freedoms at Emancipation Proclamation ceremony
Cecilia Taylor reads the Emancipation Proclamation. She is a 2018 Emancipation scholarship recipient and a freshman at Georgia State. - photo by Photo provided.

“Rise Up: Choose to be Free” was the thought-provoking 2019 theme for the Liberty County Emancipation Proclamation Observance Day service. These six powerful words reminded the attendees that they had a choice in the matter. 

On an unseasonably warm and beautiful January 1, 2019, people gathered early at First Zion Missionary Baptist Church located at the crossroads in Riceboro.  The crossroads was the location of the original Emancipation services.  

“Our theme this year, ‘Rise Up: Choose to be Free,’ is a conscience statement from our committee that now is the time to make some tough choices,” said Rev. Dr. Hermon Scott. Scott serves as pastor of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church in Walthourville. He is moderator of the Zion Missionary Baptist Association, and president of the Liberty County Emancipation Proclamation Observance Day Committee. 

Pastor Richard Hayes, founder/pastor of New Day Community Church in Walthourville, served as speaker. A native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Hayes relocated to Liberty County via the military. Currently, he serves as president of the United Ministerial Alliance of Liberty County, vice president of the Midway Middle School Governance Team, serves on the United Way Community Investments Committee, and is a member of the Hinesville Area Arts Council and the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.

“History says President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of a bloody civil war,” Hayes said.

“Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways,” Hayes continued. “It applied only to states that had seceded from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, by the end of the war, the Proclamation had influenced and prepared citizens to advocate and accept abolition for all slaves in both the North and South; paving the way for the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States, and was passed on December 6th, 1865,” he said.

“Tell the stories, stay involved, lead the Emancipation Proclamation service, push the Dr. Martin Luther King celebrations, and get excited about Black History Month. We choose to be free and if we don’t tell them about their history, it’s bound to repeat itself,” Hayes said.

Four outstanding citizens of Liberty County were recognized for their exemplary service to the community. Moderator/Pastor Oscar Goosby and Evangelist Dr. Alexzine Goosby with Pleasant Hill Holiness Church, Walthourville, received the Emancipation’s Willie J. McIver Humanitarian award. Aneysha Mack, a Bradwell Institute sophomore and member of Liberty Tabernacle of Prayer in Hinesville, received the youth award. David Anderson, a retired Hinesville City Councilperson, the first African American Mayor Pro-tem of Hinesville and a member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Hinesville, was the recipient of the President’s award. 

Cecilia Taylor, a 2018 Liberty County Emancipation Proclamation scholarship recipient and freshman at Georgia State University in Atlanta, read the Emancipation Proclamation.

Scott thanked various churches for registering to be in the souvenir booklet and the attendees for their offering.

He thanked Rev. Ollie Howard for attending Emancipation services each year.

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