Emancipated: What’s Next? was the theme for the 2020 Liberty County Emancipation Proclamation Observance Day service. These three thought-provoking words reminded the attendees that it didn’t stop with the signing and subsequent implementation of the Emancipation on January 1, 1863.
January 1, 2020 was a beautiful and sunny day, and people from Liberty County gathered early for this annual event, held this year at Liberty Tabernacle of Prayer for All People in Hinesville.
The services started at noon, but many attendees were in their seats at 11 a.m.
As they walked in, they could hear the Martin Luther King Jr., Male Mass Choir practicing their songs. This year marked the second year the MLK Male Mass Choir rendered music. Again, they did not disappoint.
The Rev. Dr. Hermon Scott, President of the Liberty County Emancipation Proclamation Committee and Pastor of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church, Walthourville, Georgia, served as the speaker. A native of Alabama, Scott relocated to Liberty County via the military. He is a Life Member of the NAACP and is a member of the Liberty County United Ministerial Alliance, and Secretary of the Manna House of Liberty County Board of Directors. He serves on the Board of Directors for Diversity Health Center, Inc., served as the first President of the Liberty County Homeless Coalition, Inc., and currently serves as a Long County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain. On July 19, 2013, Pastor Scott was elected Moderator of the Zion Missionary Baptist Association, Inc., and also serves as the Moderator and Ministers Division Coordinator of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia First District.
Pastor Scott spoke from the theme’s text, Galatians 5:1 and 13, Stand fast therefore in the liberty
wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Dr. Scott began his dynamic message by giving an informative history lesson on the Civil War and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. He spoke about the Battle of Antietam and its significance to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and why the freed Negroes could not stand firm in their newfound liberty.
“Some were not told. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance,” said Scott.
Dr. Scott also said some were threatened by night-riders “During and after the days of slavery in the United States, one way in which slave-owners, overseers, and other whites sought to control the black population was to encourage and exploit a fear of the supernatural. They planted rumors of evil spirits, haunted places, body-snatchers, and ‘night doctors,’ even by masquerading as ghosts themselves. They discouraged the unauthorized movement of blacks, particularly at night, by making them afraid of meeting other worldly beings. Blacks out after dark also risked encounters with ‘patterollers’ (mounted surveillance patrols) or, following the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan. Whatever their guise, all of these ‘night-riders’ had one purpose: to manipulate blacks through terror and intimidation.”
Pastor Scott further stated that some were tricked by sharecroppers. “The most sinister and dangerous opposition the newly freed Negroes faced was from within. They had a false sense of Heritage. Many did not know their long history as free Africans. So they were ‘endeared to the master.’ Don’t get comfortable depending on Pharaoh. Every Pharaoh will not know or care about Joseph! They also had a false sense of Honor. There were some who because they were allowed to work in the Big House got the Big Head! They had a false Hope; the Republican Party changed, the President changed - even the Constitution was changed. But my Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. In spite of the odds being against them, like the phoenix, they rose and stood firm,” he said.
“Volunteering, they joined the Army to fight for themselves. Therefore, we can and we must repair our community, return to entrepreneurship, and renew our commitment to religious and moral values. They also voted for themselves. Perhaps they understood E pluribus Unum (Latin for ‘Out of many, one’) better than we do. To borrow a phrase from Booker T. Washington – ‘In some things we can be as separate and unique as the fingers on my hand but in many things, we ought to be united.’ Be careful of those that try to shame you out of being united in ethnic thought. To be pro black does not mean you are Anti-ANYTHING.”
“They had Victory in spite of the odds; they sang songs like I am So Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always; I Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around; and We Shall overcome. Because we are emancipated, we must stand fast in the liberty just as with the Emancipation Proclamation in the Battle of Antietam. Since the day Adam sinned, God had a plan, but was waiting on a major victory. Then one Friday, He died for our sins. Therefore, who the Son makes free is free indeed!”
This year, the 2020 Emancipation Proclamation Observance Day program booklet was dedicated in honor of the brave men and women of the armed forces and our first responders who gave their lives to protect our liberty. In addition to a special page for members of the community who are age 90 and above, this year the booklet also featured a page for members who are 100 and above (Mrs. Ophelia Quarles who is 105; Mrs. Willie Mae Hubbard-Wright who is 101; and Mrs. Agnes Slater Quarterman who is 100).
Four outstanding citizens of Liberty County were recognized for their exemplary service to the community. Doris L Barrett, First African Missionary Baptist Church, Riceboro, Georgia, received the Emancipation’s Willie J. McIver Humanitarian award. Shalese N. Isaac (a Liberty County High School senior) and Hampton Jackson (a Bradwell Institute sophomore) received the youth award. They are both members of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, Hinesville, Georgia. Rev. Dr. Sinclair Thorne, Pastor of First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Hinesville, Georgia, was the recipient of the President’s award.
Makia Frazier, a Liberty County Emancipation Proclamation scholarship recipient, graduate of Spelman College, and a first year teacher at Joseph Martin Elementary, read the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Annual Emancipation Scholarship Award was named in honor of Rev. (Mother) Ollie Howard, who will be 99 years in June. Each year, Mother Howard presents the Emancipation Committee with a jar of change, as well as a check, to assist with funding for the scholarships.