Nearly 100 attendees fill pews at St. Philips Moravian Church for Freedom Day Celebration

The Freedom Day Celebration at St. Philips Moravian Church featured several speakers, performances, spoken word and much more. The event was held on May 21.

Nearly 100 attendees fill pews at  St. Philips Moravian Church for Freedom Day Celebration
June 01
13:35 2023

Last Sunday nearly 100 people sat in the same pews that were occupied at St. Philips Moravian Church more than 150 years ago, when the enslaved people of Salem received word that they were free. 

On May 21, 1865, over 800 enslaved people in the Village of Salem gathered at St. Philips to hear an announcement that would change their lives. On that day, General Orders No. 32 were read to the congregation which proclaimed that all enslaved people were free. The order, which was read to the crowded congregation. said, “To remove a doubt which seems to exist in the minds of some of the people of North Carolina, it is hereby declared that by the virtue of the proclamation of the President of the United States, dated January 1, 1863, all persons in this State heretofore held as slaves are now free; and that it is the duty of the army to maintain the Freedom of such persons.” 

The order was read in Salem a month before it was read in Galveston, Texas, which is marked by the Juneteenth holiday.

To celebrate that historic day, Old Salem Museum & Gardens partnered with Triad Cultural Arts Inc., the Happy Hill Neighborhood Association, and the members of St. Philips Moravian Church, to host the Freedom Celebration. 

In years past, the event has been headlined by a keynote speaker. This year the event featured several speakers, performances, singing, dancing, and spoken word. 

Speakers included Hon. Denise Hartsfield; Barbara Chisholm Morris, a member of St. Phillips; John Larson, Winston-Salem City Council; former vice president of restoration at Old Salem, Mel White; former director of African American Programs at Old Salem, Jordyn Jones, education coordinator at Old Salem; and Winston-Salem City Councilmember Annette Scippio. 

The celebration also included performances by the Carver High School Chorus and Drama Club, pianist and singer Kevin Strayhorn, local storyteller Renee Andrews, the 2022 Queen Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant participants, drummers Chi Sharpe and George Glenn, and spoken word by LB The Poet.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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