Friday, December 30, 2011

Join Us at the Underground Railroad 0n Dec. 31, 2011 for the first annual WATCH NIGHT

"WATCH NIGHT"  December 31

"Bringing HOPE and FAITH into Reality"
Join Us For a Cultural Filled Evening of Poetry, Art, Music,Video Presentations, and Community Dialog & Strengthening.
Remembering, Commemorating, and Connecting the Dots of African/Black History to the Spirit of Resistance and Freedom Today.
Sat. December 31, 2011
8:00p.m. - 1:00 a.m.
Admission $10.00
*Admission Includes Dinner*
Proceeds Benefit The Continued Work of the Underground Railroad Cafe & Educational Center

The Underground Railroad
Educational Center
16-18 East Union Street
Burlington, New Jersey 08016

For more information contact: nationalmwm@aol.comnn
or 267-636-3802

Co-sponsored by the National Million Woman Movement Historic Preservation Society (PA and NJ)

History of WATCH NIGHT:
There are two essential reasons for the importance of New Year's Eve services in African American communities, congregations, etc. Many of the Watch Night Services in Black communities that we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's Eve." On that night, Americans of African descent came together in churches, gathering places and private homes throughout the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had become law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and according to Lincoln's promise, all slaves in the Confederate States were legally free. People remained in churches and other gathering places, eagerly awaiting word that Emancipation had been declared. When the actual news of freedom was received later that day, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God.

But even before 1962 and the possibility of a Presidential Emancipation, African people had gathered on New Year's Eve on plantations across the South. That is because many owners of enslaved Africans tallied up their business accounts on the first day of each new year. Human property was sold along with land and furnishings to satisfy debts. Families and friends were separated. Often they never saw each other again in this earthly world. Thus coming together on December 31 might be the last time for enslaved and free Africans to be together with loved ones.

So, Black folks in North America have gathered annually on New Year's Eve since the earliest days, praising God for bringing us safely through another year and praying for the future. Certainly, those traditional gatherings were made even more poignant by the events of 1863 which brought freedom to the slaves and the Year of Jubilee. Many generations have passed since and most of us were never taught the African American history of Watch Night. Yet our traditions and our faith still bring us together at the end of every year to celebrate once again "how we got over." and the continued fight for "REAL" Freedom.

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