Watch Carole's Commentary On Watch Night Below...
Dear Family, Valuable Friends, Clients, and Colleagues:
From my home to yours, I wish you rich blessings into the New Year. Here is a special article I created about the history of Watch Night Service in the African American community. The tradition predates the importance of the famous 1862 Watch Night Services and originated with the Moravians in Germany many years earlier. The first Methodist church in America to celebrate Watch Night in the 1700s was St. George United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, the home church of Bishop Richard Allen, co-founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. However, it has become particularly important in the Black Church, with its evolution in the early to mid-1800s. The word evolved from “Freedom’s Eve” to “Watch Night” as the freed and enslaved blacks “watched” the clock strike 12 midnight, turning the course of the Civil War and freeing 3 million slaves in the states of the rebellion.
Wishing You The Best in 2017 !
Carole Copeland Thomas, MBA CDMP, CITM
The History Of Watch Night Services In The Black Church
by Carole Copeland Thomas
With the festivities of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa now on full display, there is still time to reflect on the ritual of my ancestors and many other African Americans, whose forefathers sat around campfires and wood stoves in the twilight of December 31, 1862. There they sang spirituals acapella, prayed, and thanked the Good Lord for what was about to happen the next day. In the North Abolitionists were jubilant that the “peculiar institution” was finally about to get dismantled one plantation at a time.
The booklet, Walking Tours of Civil War Boston sites this about this historic event:
“On January 1, 1863, large anti-slavery crowds gathered at Boston’s Music Hall and Tremont Temple to await word that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the much-anticipated Emancipation Proclamation (EP). Those present at the Music Hall included Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe, poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and John Greenleaf Whittier and essayist, poet and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Also present was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who composed his Boston Hymn to mark the occasion.”
Now… Let’s Look Back...154 Years Ago Tonight...
It was on January 1, 1863 amidst the cannon fire, gun shots, and burnings at the height of the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln sealed his own fate and signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It begins with the following decree:
Whereas on the 22nd day of September, A.D. 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, towit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”
That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."
CAROLE' S TRANSLATION:
Effective January 1, 1863 all slaves in the states in rebellion against the Union are free.
Technically that is all that President Lincoln could do at the time. He used his wartime powers as Commander in Chief to liberate the "property" of the states in rebellion of the Union. The act did not free the slaves of the Union or border states (Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, or West Virginia) or any southern state under Union control (like parts of Virginia). It would take the 13th Amendment (that freed all slaves in 1865), the Union Army winning the Civil War (April 9, 1865), and the assassination of President Lincoln (shot on April 14th and died on April 15, 1865) for all of the slaves to be freed. That included the liberation of the slaves in rebellious Texas on June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth Day) and finally the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 18, 1865, giving all black people freedom and permanently abolishing slavery in the US.
So in 1862 on the eve of this great era, the slaves "watched", prayed, and waited. My ancestors, including Bishop Wesley John Gaines of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) (a slave in Georgia freed by the EP) and the other three million slaves prayed for divine guidance and an empowered Abraham Lincoln to do the right thing. It is as important today as the tradition of black people eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck.
Following the Emancipation Proclamation slaves were freed in stages, based on where they lived, the willingness of the plantation owner to release them and when Union troops began to control their area.
Black educator and community activist Booker T. Washington as a boy of 9 in Virginia, remembered the day in early 1865:
“As the great day drew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night. Most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom. ... Some man who seemed to be a stranger (a United States officer, I presume) made a little speech and then read a rather long paper—the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After the reading we were told that we were all free, and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying, but fearing that she would never live to see.”
The longest holdouts were the slaves in Texas, who were not freed until June 19, 1865, two months after the Civil War ended. That day is not celebrated as Juneteenth Day around the United States.
That is the history of Watch Night in the African American culture.
May you and your family enjoy a spirit filled New Year throughout 2017. Thank you for ALL of your support you have given to me and my business throughout 2016.
Click Here to register for the FREE Webinar with author Adrian Miller. It's a fun and engaging one our presentation you won't want to miss.
Here are Historical insights from Adrian Miller’s new book, Soul Food:
Following the example of the Caribbean planters, southern planters realized they could save money by feeding their slaves fish. The use of fish as slave rations served as the second conscious linking of fish and blackness in the slaving South. Planters like Thomas Jefferson often found fish a cheaper alternative to other meats. Other planters followed suit, and enslaved people fished on their own time to supplement their rations. Todd Savitt notes in his study of slavery, “Slaves also fished for their own meals in nearby streams, with or without the permission of overseer and master.” (Page 73)
And this excerpt:
Fried chicken’s long preparation time played a role in the gradual development of the Gospel Bird. Slaves, including the field cooks, had the most leisure time on weekends and holidays, which coincided with the observances of the Christian Sabbath and other days of religious importance. (Page 55)
And this excerpt:
Since bananas were cheap in that region, British Caribbean cooks experimented with putting bananas in their traditional desserts at a much earlier date than those in British North America. The British trifle was one such dessert that got a makeover. Banana pudding’s acknowledged immediate ancestor is the British trifle - a dessert in which a bread element (cake, shredded break, or cookies) was covered with a boiled custard and then topped off with a meringue. (Page 246)
Join us for a facinating hour of food, culture and traditions with award winning writer, attorney and certified barbecue judge Adrian Miller. Even if you grew up on fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and collard greens, there is something new that you'll learn from this webinar. Insightful, eclectic and historical, Adrian Miller delves into the influences, ingredients and innovations that make up the soul food tradition. Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of foods--such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens and "red drinks"--Miller uncovers how they got on the soul food plate and what it means for African American culture and history.
Invite your friends and colleagues to this FREE one hour webinar set for July 28th at 12 Noon Eastern. After the program you'll need to be a member of the Multicultural Symposium Series to access the archive version. (www.mssconnect.com)
Bring your questions about that special soul food and Adrian will answer them.
From Grandma's favorite recipe to Uncle Joe's famous barbecue sauce, Soul Food will make you hungry and happy at the same time.
Join our webinar by smart phone, landline, laptop or desktop computer. We'll send you complete instructions how to join the presentation as soon as you REGISTER for the webinar.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Carole Copeland Thomas at 508 947-5755.
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About The Author:
Adrian Miller is a graduate of Stanford University and Georgetown University Law School. After practicing law in Denver for several years, Adrian became a special assistant to President William Jefferson Clinton and the Deputy Director of the President’s Initiative for One America. The President’s Initiative for One America was the first free-standing White House office in history to examine and focus on closing the opportunity gaps that exist for minorities in this country. The One America office built on the foundation laid by the President’s Initiative on Race by promoting the President’s goals of educating the American public about race, and coordinating the work of the White House and federal agencies to carry out the President’s vision of One America.
After his White House stint, Adrian returned to Colorado and served as the General Counsel and Director of Outreach at the Bell Policy Center—a progressive think tank dedicated to making Colorado a state of opportunity for all. In 2007, Adrian became the Deputy Legislative Director for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. By the end of Gov. Ritter’s first term, Adrian was a Senior Policy Analyst for Gov. Ritter where he handled homeland security, military and veterans’ issues. Adrian was also Governor Ritter’s point person on the Colorado Campaign to End Childhood Hunger which significantly increased participation in the summer food and school breakfast programs.
Adrian is currently the Executive Director of the Colorado Council of Churches. He is the first African American and the first layperson to hold that position.
Adrian is also a culinary historian and a certified barbecue judge who has lectured around the country on such topics as: Black Chefs in the White House, chicken and waffles, hot sauce, kosher soul food, red drinks, soda pop, and soul food. Adrian’s book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time was published by the University of North Carolina Press in August 2013. Soul Food won the 2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship.
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