Emancipation Day is celebrated in many former British colonies in the Caribbean and areas of the United States on various dates in observance of the emancipation of slaves of African origin. It is also observed in other areas in regard to the abolition of serfdom or other forms of servitude.

Caribbean

The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834. Emancipation Day is widely observed in the British West Indies during the first week of August. In many Caribbean countries the Emancipation Day celebration is a part of Carnival, as the Caribbean Carnival takes place at this time (although Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago takes place in February or March according to Ash Wednesday, not near August).

 

August

        Barbados: Emancipation Day in Barbados is part of the annual "Season of Emancipation" which runs from April 14 to August 23. The Season, includes the anniversary of the Slave Rebellion led by the Right Excellent Bussa, National hero, in 1816, National Heroes Day on April 28, the Crop Over Festival, the Day of National Significance on July 26 (in commemoration of the social unrest of 1937) and International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on August 23. Emancipation Day celebrations usually feature a Walk from Independence Square in Bridgetown to the Heritage Village at the Crop Over Bridgetown Market on the Spring Garden Highway. At the Heritage Village, apart from a concert, there is also a wreath-laying ceremony as a tribute to the ancestors. Traditionally, the Prime Minister, the Minister responsible for Culture and representatives of the Commission for Pan African Affairs are among those laying wreaths.

        Bermuda: Celebration usually occurs on August 2, despite August 1 being the national holiday. On the island the holiday is better known as the first day of "Cupmatch", an annual two-day cricket competition between the St. George's and Somerset cricket clubs.

        Guyana

        Jamaica

        Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

        Trinidad and Tobago

        Turks and Caicos Islands

        St. Lucia

        Saint Andres Island, Providence and Saint Cathleena: For the first in history will be celebrating this day, it is a great fullfilment for the islands and more greater for the ethnic raizal afrocaribbean people, with different cultural activities and other cultural manifestations this great day will be carry out.

First Monday in August

Some countries observe the holiday as August Monday.

Atlantic Slave Trade. The first Monday and Tuesday in August was observed as a bank holiday so the populace can jump and wave and, celebrate Emancipation Day. Monday is J'ouvert a street party that mimics the early morning emancipation.

Anguilla: In addition to commemorating emancipation, it is the first day of "August Week", the Anguillian Carnival celebrations. J'ouvert is celebrated on this morning, as Carnival commences.

The Bahamas: Celebrations are mainly concentrated in Fox Hill Village, Nassau, a former slave village whose inhabitants, according to folklore, heard about their freedom a week after everyone else on the island. There is also a celebration beginning on August 1 and lasting several days held in the charming settlement of Hatchet Bay on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera known as the Bay Fest, as well as the settlement of Tarpum Bay also on the island of Eleuthera known as Back to The Bay.

        British Virgin Islands: The first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of August are celebrated as "August Festival".

        Saint Kitts and Nevis: The first Monday and Tuesday are celebrated as "Emancipation Day" and also "Culturama" in Nevis.

        Dominica: The first Monday is celebrated as August Monday.

        Grenada: The first Monday in August is celebrated as "Emancipation Day" with Cultural activities.

 

 

EMANCIPATION FACT

Did you know that on midnight on July 31st 1838 complete freedom and emancipation from chattel slavery was received with great rejoicing and that many of the freed slaves also went to Church in thanksgiving?

(Emancipation to Emigration-Greenwood & Hamber 2nd Edition)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that on August 1st 2008 marks 170 years since the First Emancipation Day August 1st, 1838?

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that Frederick Douglas a runaway slave addressed the Anti-Slavery Society in Massachusetts in 1841? He made such an impression that he became an agent of the Society and a leader in the movement against Slavery.

(Reconstructing the Black Image- Gordon De La Mothe)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom, traveling by night, hiding by day, until she reached Philadelphia? She then joined a secret organization known as the Underground Railway which helped people to escape.

(Reconstructing the Black Image- Gordon De La Mothe)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that Slavery continued in the United States for nearly 3 decades after it was abolished in Britain and its colonies? It was brought to its end by a bloody Civil War which began in 1861.

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

EMANCIPATION REFLECTION

Did you know that Emancipation was the end of legal Chattel Slavery? There is no doubt that Emancipation was the most important Event in the Caribbean since the Europeans arrived in 1492 (i.e. 500 Odd Years Ago)

(Enhancing Culture Integrity & Economic Viability in the Spirit of Emancipation-Dr. Curtis Jacobs, August 03, 2003)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that during the first fifty years after 1834, the former Slaves and their Ancestors regularly observed August 1st as a day that was significant in their individual and collective histories? These celebrations were alive and well up to the 1930’s in Grenada. This is a story repeated in the entire Caribbean.

(Enhancing Culture Integrity & Economic Viability in the Spirit of Emancipation-Dr. Curtis Jacobs, August 03, 2003)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that the Black slaves had a Natural Right to be free which was being withheld from him/her.? The fact that the ‘Natural Right’ was being withheld from the Slaves meant that he/she had a ‘Natural Right’ to reclaim that freedom that was taken from them. The Slave rebel therefore, could be seen as a Natural Rebel. One must now question whether there was a gender dimension to this resistance.

(Producers, Reproducers & Rebels: Grenadian Slave Women 1783-1833-Dr. Nichole Phillip)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

“Perhaps the re-discovery of August 01st may well be the start of a process of re-discovery of the tradition of self-reliance and independence that marked the enthusiasm for the freedom that characterized the first 50 years of Emancipation. In these challenging times we need to return to those values and traditions, the “spirit of Emancipation” that served us in such good stead over the Centuries”

(Dr. Curtis Jacobs- August 03 2003)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

 

EMANCIPATION REFLECTION

The spirit of Emancipation has always existed amongst the Grenadian people. From the beginning of Modern History, (over the last 500 years). It was this spirit that refused to be daunted, from the indigenous peoples who chose death to Slavery at Morne Des Sauteurs in1650-1651, to those who leap to their deaths off Mt. Que Que rather than be forced to return to a life of Slavery at the end of Fedon’s Rebellion in 1796

(Enhancing Culture Integrity & Economic Viability in the Spirit of Emancipation-Dr. Curtis Jacobs, August 03, 2003)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

SLAVE REVOLTS

Did you know that Toussaint L’Overture led that only successful rebellion of Black Slaves? In 1801 he issued a Constitution for St. Domingue. On November 29th, 1803 Dessalimes, Christophe and Clervaux declared the Independence of St. Domingue.

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that Samuel Sharp, a Baptist deacon planned a strike in December 1831 in Jamaica? The Slaves on several plantations refused to go back to work after the Christmas Holidays. Over 400 Slaves were killed and Sharp was executed with about 100 followers before the ‘Baptist War’ as the Slaves called it was put down

(Caribbean Story, Claypole & Robottom)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that Ashanti Slave Cuffy led a rebellion in the Dutch Colony of Berbice, Guyana in February in 1763?

(Caribbean Story, Claypole & Robottom)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

SLAVE REVOLTS

Did you know that the first Slave revolt took place in Hispaniola in 1522, only very shortly after the first African was brought to the island? From that time until Emancipation there were revolts against Slavery at least every few years.

(Caribbean Story, Claypole & Robottom)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that Samuel Sharp was the Black Baptist deacon who led the Emancipation revolt in Jamaica? As he was led to his execution in May 1832 his last works were: “I would rather die on yonder gallows than live in Slavery”

(Caribbean Story, Claypole & Robottom)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that on January 1804, at a meeting of Blacks & Colures, Dessalines, the General-in-Chief, renounced all connections with France and renamed St. Domingue ‘Haiti’? The Arawak word for “LAND of MOUNTAINS

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

SLAVE REVOLTS

Did you know that on March 03, 1795- June 19, 1796 Julien Fedon led a Rebellion against British rule in Grenada? A bounty of 500 Pounds was offered for Fedon’s capture dead or alive. It was never claimed.

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that Barbados had revolts in 1675, 1686, 1692 & 1702?

(Caribbean Story, Claypole & Robottom)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

SLAVE LAWS

 

    • For leading Others to run away: Pinched three times with a hot iron
    • For following others in a run away: a leg cut off or if pardoned by the master, ears cut off and 150 lashes
    • Failing to report a runaway or the planning of an escape : burned on the forehead and 100 lashes
    • Absence for eight days: 150 lashes
    • Absence for twelve weeks: loss of a leg
    • Absence for six months: death
    • For lifting a hand to strike a white person or for threatening violence: pinched with hot irons and hanged

(Reconstructing the Black Image- Gordon De La Mothe)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

EMANCIPATION ACT

It is hereby enacted …..That as of August 1st, 1838 all persons held as Slaves on the Island of Grenada are now and forever, free”

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that in August 1833 the debates were over and MP’s passed the Emancipation Act? The Planters & assemblies were told there would be 16.5 million Pounds compensation if they passed their own Emancipation laws. Slavery in the whole British Empire was to end sharp, at midnight on 1st August 1834.

(Caribbean Story, Claypole & Robottom)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that on August 29th 1833 the Act received Royal Assent? Emancipation was to come into effect on August 1st, 1834 and complete freedom scheduled for August 1st, 1840, but it was forward to August 1st, 1834, when it was decided to end apprenticeship two years early.

(Emancipation to Emigration-Greenwood & Hamber 2nd Edition)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

GRENADA’S MARRONAGE & EMANCIPATION

Did you know that there were some Africans who, completely rejected plantation life as Slaves, and chose a life of freedom in Grenada’s untamed interior, out of reach of those who would return them to a life of Slavery? The French invented the term ‘marronage’ to refer to this activity.

(African Symbolisms in Fedon’s Rebellion-Dr. C.M Jacobs)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

  • THE SLAVE TRADE

  • Did you know that by the 1780’s the African ports of departure for Slaves entering Grenada were- Old Calabar Africa, Sierra Leon, Bonny Africa & New Calabar in Africa?
  • (African Symbolisms in Fedon’s Rebellion-Dr. C.M Jacobs)
  • Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.
  • Did you know that the British abolished the Slave Trade in 1807? 2007 marked 200 years since the end of the Slave Trade.
  • Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006
  • Did you know that between 1781 & 1790 some 16.75% of the Slaves brought into the Americas by British Slavers were from ‘Congo, Angola’? During the decade 1791-1800 this figure reached 30.83%.
  • (African Symbolisms in Fedon’s Rebellion-Dr. C.M Jacobs)
  • Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

THE SLAVE TRADE

Did you know that the first African Slave was brought to the Caribbean in 1502? King Charles V of Spain granted a license for the supply of 4000 African Slaves to Hispaniola in 1518.

(Reconstructing the Black Image- Gordon De La Mothe)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

WOMEN IN SLAVERY & EMANCIPATION

Pregnant women were not generally treated differently in this severity of the work regime, nor in punishments meted out for the slightest offence. Pregnant Women were frequently exposed to punishment, and in such case, a hole would be dug in the ground for the Women’s belly for the purpose of preventing injury to the Child. The flogging of Women was abolished in 1825 by the British Government. However, Grenadian Planters bitterly protested the prohibition of this measure of torture against Women. After considerable resistance, the Legislative Council grudgingly passed the Act.

(Producers, Reproducers & Rebels: Grenadian Slave Women 1783-1833-Dr. Nichole Phillip)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

 

CARNIVAL AND EMANCIPATION

Did you know that Carnival as a Cultural Tradition owes its origin to Slavery and later Emancipation? It was closely associated with the Roman Catholic Season of Lent & the Festival of Easter. It was the time of the Sugar Cane Harvest & this coincided with West African Harvest Festivals & their traditions of the Masquerade.

(Enhancing Culture Integrity & Economic Viability in the Spirit of Emancipation-Dr. Curtis Jacobs, August 03, 2003)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

Did you know that Carnival after Emancipation changed from a series of indoor Costumed Balls immediately preceding Ash Wednesday to an outdoor Street Parade? The tone also changed from celebration to Protest. The Songs & Masquerade changed from poking fun at their Masters to poking fun at their rules.

(Enhancing Culture Integrity & Economic Viability in the Spirit of Emancipation-Dr. Curtis Jacobs, August 03, 2003)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

On the approach of Emancipation, the soon to be former Slaves gathered at the highest point they could reach to be the first to see the day break, which meant a new day and era, that of Freedom. It is believed that this tradition of seeing the daybreak, the “Jour Ouvert” The “Opening of the Day” gives rise to the tradition of “Jouvert” or “Jouvay” The start of the final stages of the Carnival Festival.

(Enhancing Culture Integrity & Economic Viability in the Spirit of Emancipation-Dr. Curtis Jacobs, August 03, 2003)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.

GRENADA’S FIRST EMANCIPATION

Africans held the legal status of property except for the period of Fedon’s Rebellion (March 03rd, 1795- June 19th, 1796), when the revolutionaries had emancipated their Slaves, and considered all Africans who chose to join the abortive rebellion free man

(African Symbolisms in Fedon’s Rebellion-Dr. C.M Jacobs)

Prepared by: P.C. Antoine for the Institute For People’s Enlightenment Ltd. July 2006.