On Monday, July 1, we will commemorate 156 years since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation which liberated enslaved Africans on St. Maarten in 1863.

Official commemoration starts at the stroke of midnight with the Diamond 26 Run for Freedom Reenactment. Come dressed in white, experience a re-enactment of declaring the slaves free men and women. Singers, dancers, and drummers have been working hard, practicing their performances for weeks.

The line-up starts at 11:00pm on June 30, at Diamond Hill, near the causeway roundabout on Union Road in Cole Bay. The event will last until 1:30am, July 1. This year’s theme: “64,000: We have a name…”

Later on in the day, the annual Cultural Ancestral Emancipation Day Celebration will be held at Emilio Wilson Park, hosted by VOICES [Victory Over Justice Consciously Eliminating Silence].

The organisation holds the event each year to “commemorate emancipation from slavery and to acknowledge the greatness of our ancestors. The theme for this year is ‘Keeping our Culture Alive’. In accordance with this theme, VOICES Foundation will be honouring persons from the community who have been keeping the St. Maarten culture alive.”

Come to Emilio Wilson Park from 1:00 to 7:00 pm to experience the ceremonies and enjoy artistic expressions in song, poetry and dance, as well as traditional arts and craft, and local food and drink. DJ Pebbles will entertain the crowd with local music, and a bouncy castle will keep children entertained for the day. Entrance to the park is free for all. The public is encouraged to bring along blankets and chairs to enjoy the day in the park.

Pictured: Scenes from last year’s early morning Emancipation Day observances at Captain Hodge Wharf in Philipsburg, which focused on the role the ocean played in the emancipation story – including in the Middle Passage – under the theme: “The Water Remembers”.