The Guyanese Emancipation Day Observance at Medgar Evers College on Monday was an evening filled with music, dancing, and moving speeches. Guyanese Emancipation Day commemorates the fight of Afro-Guyanese slaves to end the horrors of slavery.
The Consulate General of the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana hosted the event. Speakers included Ambassador Michael E. Brotherson, the Consul General of Guyana, Ambassador Samuel A .A. Hinds, the ambassador of Guyana to the United States, and Ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, the ambassador of Guyana to the United Nations (UN).
Dr. Gillian Richards-Greaves, a Guyanese born professor of anthropology and ethnomusicography, who spoke at the event encouraged guests to think of emancipation as ongoing work, to free individuals from the limiting thoughts of the mind, and to continue the work of their ancestors.
New York City Public Advocate, Jumaane D. Williams also spoke to the audience.
The evening began with a touching libation ceremony where an offering of water was made to the ancestors and guests were encouraged to say the names of their loved ones who are no longer with us.
Dancer Jermain Victor performed an emancipation dance entitled “Keep Rising,” a theme that was woven throughout the night. Fusha Dance Company performed a traditional coming of age dance, and Victory Music Dance Company shared their piece entitled “Slavery to Victory.”
Music filled the hall. Both the American National Anthem and the Guyanese National Anthem were sung; and Jevanah La Rose performed a rendition of Cynthia Erivo’s song “Stand Up,” from the movie “Harriet.”
The ceremony concluded with a performance by one of Guyana’s hottest artists, Adrian Dutchin. He sang, “I Am A Guyanese,” which got each and every attendee on their feet, proclaiming their love for their heritage, culture, and the power of those who came before them.