On Saturday, June 22, the Spirituals Choir sang at the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP’s Juneteenth celebration, held at the First Baptist Church in Vineyard Haven.
In the middle of June 1865, the word finally got to Texas that the Civil War was over and the slaves were free. The slaves had been officially free since January 1, 1863, but word didn’t always travel fast in those days. Some people, it seems, didn’t want the word to get through at all.
According to the history books, Major General George Granger made the announcement in Galveston on June 19, but people got the word at different times and not everyone had a calendar handy, so the date has come down to us as Juneteenth. For more about the history, check out this site.
Jim Thomas, director of the Spirituals Choir and founder of the U.S. Slave Song Project (which the choir is part of), talked about the history and introduced each of the songs.
We sang “You May Bury Me in the East” in memory of Natalie Dickerson, former president of the M.V. NAACP and a singer with the choir in its early years, who passed in May.
Natalie was also present in an interview she did with Ann Bassett, host of the Vineyard View show on MVTV. Natalie herself hosted two MVTV shows, Pathway to Your Health and Pathway to Your Success.
After the program we all adjourned to the parish house for a potluck feast.
Next Saturday we’ll be performing at Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven: Show time is 7:30, June 29; tickets are $15 (to benefit the U.S. Slave Song Project) and can be purchased at the door.