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Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Cooridor National Heritage Area Plans for 5th Annual New Year’s Eve Watch Night



Press Release

This New Year’s Eve, join the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor NHA and community partners for an annual daytime “Freedom’s Eve: A Gullah Geechee Watch Night and Emancipation Day Celebration” to bring in the new year reflecting on the importance of commemorating the date of January 1, 1863 when enslaved people in the Lowcountry, the Sea Islands and throughout the United States emerged from bondage as a result of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This event is a part of the Commission’s larger initiative to partner with Gullah Geechee communities across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to raise awareness about a celebration that is almost 160 years old. On December 31, 1862, Gullah Geechee people gathered in sacred spaces and places of worship praise house to await a new year, one that would mark the beginning of the end of slavery when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863!

This date was remembered as Freedoms Eve and many churches across the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor still use the New Year’s Eve Watch Night Service to remember that historic date.

To commemorate the historic tradition, this year’s hybrid event will take place at Historic Morris Brown AME Church, 13 Morris Street, Charleston, and showcase the rich, cultural heritage of the Gullah Geechee people with performances from acclaimed performers the McIntosh County Shouters of Townsend, GA, Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk of Beaufort, master storyteller Lillian Grant-Baptiste of Savannah, GA, and Deninufay Dance Co. of Charleston. Hosted by Dr. Jessica Berry, of Huger.

This hybrid event is free and open to the public, online and in-person. Limited capacity for in-person attendance Registration is strongly advised via Eventbrite.

To join us in-person or online, visit Eventbrite: Freedom’s Eve Charleston Celebration, and claim your ticket!

Watch Night services are regularly held at churches across the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. We encourage you to attend one and learn more about the history of these important traditions — and the communities that sustain them. Visit us at

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