Forks of the Road ceremony marks slavery, freedom

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 23, 2000

More than 60 people gathered early Saturday morning for a ceremony at the Forks of the Road, the intersection of Liberty Road and St. Catherine Street. That place is historic because it was the site of one of the South’s second-largest slave market in the early to mid-1800s.

&uot;They were sold … to make cotton king and sugar queen,&uot; said Ser Seshshab Heter-C.M. Boxley, one of the event’s coordinators.

But it was also a place through which thousands of slaves fled to freedom following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Hundreds of those people joined the Union Army to help fight for freedom, Boxley said.

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&uot;We’re here to offer a true interpretation of history. There has been Pilgrimage in Natchez for a long time, but that’s not the whole truth,&uot; said the Rev. Andrew Robinson.

&uot;We’re still fighting for our basic rights. … We’re offering the truth not for ourselves, but because we don’t want to see it lost&uot; before children of African descent can learn it, he added.

The event included speeches on the history of slavery and emancipation, the performance of African dances and music, and wreath and libation offerings.

Charles Wright, a Natchez native whose ancestors labored at a plantation near what is now the Cranfield community, has come to ceremonies at the Forks of the Road several times.

&uot;I’m here tracing history, … finding the story that has not been told,&uot; Wright said.

From the Forks of the Road, participants traveled to the Mississippi River bluff to continue the ceremony.

At 1 p.m., they assembled at Copiah-Lincoln Community College for a public forum on the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program.