“Sacred legacies; standing on the shoulders of giants” will be the theme for the 2020 Emancipation Day Celebration
Philipsburg – This year Sint Maarten will be celebrating the 157th Anniversary of Emancipation from slavery on July 1, 2020. Emancipation Day, was the first public holiday established by the Parliament of Sint Maarten since becoming a Country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The celebration will take place on July 1st at 9:00 am to 10:30 am at the Freedom Fighter Roundabout located in Philipsburg across from the Sundial School.
Minister of Education Culture Youth & Sport, the Honorable Rodolphe E. Samuel is asking the public to come out, observe and celebrate in 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 masks and maintaining social distancing as they gather during this public event.
During this time leading up to Emancipation Day, the Government of Sint Maarten would like the community to take a moment to reflect on our past triumphs and tribulations as a people. 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 Sint Maarteners of that era were a people that were aware that the former enslaved persons on the Northern part of the island were freemen as of 1848 and many of them ran away from the deplorable conditions that they were forced into.
These actions by the enslaved persons seeking their freedom culminated in the Proclamation of Emancipation as the European powers knew that slave labor 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 Ministry of Culture Youth & Sport has selected the theme – “Sacred legacies; standing on the shoulder of giants” as a means of bringing the people of this country 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.