Freedom comes to life with annual Juneteenth celebration

Published 9:03 am Friday, June 15, 2007

NATCHEZ — A celebration of freedom will take place Saturday at Forks of the Roads in Natchez as part the 13th annual Juneteenth commemoration libation.

A short version of a living history play and meditation libation will be performed to share the story of slavery in Natchez. Ser Seshs Ab Heter-Boxley, founder and curator of the Africa House Ya Providence Educulture Museum and Gallery, is coordinating the day’s celebration.

“The event will demonstrate and commemorate the actions toward freedom that took place in Natchez-Adams County,” Boxley said. “We want to honor and recall those who were enslaved here and their struggle for freedom.”

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The short version of the living history play will focus on the life of freed slave turned politician John Roy Lynch.

“For the first time Lynch will be represented,” Boxley said. “The play is a model that will allow the story of slavery in Natchez to be shown from the African-American point of view.”

Other characters in the play will include a slave dealer, Isaac Franklin; escaped slaves, William Thompson and Mrs. Ann Tims; a Methodist abolitionist, Laura Havillan; and a freedom fighter who was sold at Forks of the Roads, George Thomas also known as George Washington.

“All of the actors in the play are Natchez residents,” Boxley said. “ Three of them, Jamaal McCullen, Diana Smith, and David Williams, actually work for the Natchez Fire Department.”

In addition to the play, there will be a libation, an ancient African tradition of remembrance and commemoration, and a period of meditation. The libation and meditation will be presented by Boxley.

The purpose of the event is to teach about the history of slavery in Natchez in a way that traditional tourism doesn’t offer, Boxley said.

The Juneteenth celebration will take place at the intersection of St. Catherine Street and Liberty Road at 10 a.m.