Freedom Fighters monument.
PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten will be celebrating the 157th anniversary of emancipation from slavery on Wednesday, July 1. The celebration will take place 9:00-10:30am at the Freedom Fighters Roundabout across from Sundial School in Philipsburg.
Emancipation Day was the first public holiday established by the Parliament of St. Maarten after becoming a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe E. Samuel is asking the public to come out, observe and celebrate the ceremony, as there will be addresses by government leaders, prayers and Afro-Caribbean cultural presentations.
Additionally, persons are reminded to consider their safety by wearing facemasks and maintaining social distancing as they gather during this public event.
During this time leading up to Emancipation Day, government said it would like the community to take a moment to reflect on past triumphs and tribulations.
“Many believed the road to our freedom on the southern side of the island was easy and granted to us by the European powers. Contrary to popular belief, our ancestors fought for their freedom.
“The strong and resilient St. Maarteners of that era were a people that were aware that the former enslaved persons on the northern part of the island were free men as of 1848 and many of them ran away from the deplorable conditions that they were forced into,” the Ministry of Education and Culture said Tuesday in a press release.
“These actions by the enslaved persons seeking their freedom culminated in the Proclamation of Emancipation, as the European powers knew that [the – Ed.] slave labour system could not continue as it did for so many years. Freedom for the enslaved ancestors was inevitable. There are many accounts of rebellion and resistance towards the oppressive slave system such as the Diamond 26 escape and the expressions of the Ponum song and dance.”
The ECYS Ministry has selected the theme “Sacred legacies; standing on the shoulders of giants” as a means of bringing the people of St. Maarten together “to foster the strength of our ancestors as we navigate through the challenges of the present and post COVID-19.
“We must continue to work collectively as one nation to regain economic momentum, by redefining the strengths of our legacy in order to pay homage to the ancestors that fought for their human rights to be a free people and to rectify the social injustices that were made against them, as we are called to build on those sacrifices made.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/sacred-legacies-theme-of-2020-emancipation-day-celebration