Emancipation Day

Presented by Matter of Black and Black-Owned 905, in partnership with the TD Niagara Jazz Festival and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, and supported by the City of St. Catharines.

CELEBRATING BLACK MUSIC, HISTORY AND CULTURE

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Original Air Date: Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Abolition of Slavery Act became law on August 1, 1834.

It was the end of a long struggle for the legal right to ban human slavery. In particular it ushered in the end of slavery throughout the British Empire, and people of African descent could finally celebrate a new found freedom in Canada.  It also meant the Underground Railroad became a lifeline for many freedom seekers following the North Star. Hundreds found their way to Canada, and to St. Catharines – thanks to the courage and resilience of Harriet Tubman and her many helpers.

In 1924 the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) initiated an ambitious picnic event – the reason was to celebrate freedom. And for the next fifty years the first Thursday of every August became known as the Emancipation Day Picnic. Sometimes known as “Maids Day Off” the Emancipation Day Picnic attracted  visitors from all over Ontario, and as far away as Virginia and Tennessee. It was a  day of family, friends, food, music, parades, singing and dancing.

The tradition was carried by local families for decades.

In the spirit of celebration, the TD Niagara Jazz Festival is proud to be a part of such an auspicious event, honouring Black History, and the tireless courage of so many ancestors.

Join TD Niagara Jazz Festival on Sunday August 1 with a day-long offering of music, spoken word, art, songs, Black History, and African wisdom.

Canadian super stars Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley open the day's music events with their unique Black History music video.

During the day meet Natasha Henry, educator, historian, curriculum consultant, President of the Ontario Black History Society, and author of numerous articles and books on Black History, including Emancipation Day: Celebrating Freedom in Canada (2010).

Also join Rochelle Bush, Trustee and Historian at the BME Church, Salem Chapel, as we share a powerful dialogue and narrative of African wisdom and cultural history with Tiki Mercury-Clarke, recorded in the very chapel where Harriet Tubman worshipped.

Get ready to dance at your garden picnics with two tribute concerts honouring classic jazz icons, Nina Simone and Natalie Cole.

And amongst all this classic talent you can find more groundbreaking talent with PK Hummingbird and hear their history of the steel pan drum tradition, the new and outrageously good Joshua Lynes Duo, and the bold and passionate spoken word artist Eve Atoms – all young, original future stars bringing Black History, soul and jazz to the virtual picnic!

Schedule

Click on a performance below to see additional information. Schedule is subject to change.

Performances Funded By:

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In Partnership With:

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Proudly supported in part by: