Church bells will ring villagewide on Saturday in Southampton in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863. Sponsored by many village organizations and businesses, events will include a public reading of the document, a round-table discussion of its meaning, and a party with poetry, jazz, and food.
The celebration will kick off at 1 p.m. in front of the Southampton Presbyterian Church on the corner of Job’s Lane and Main Street, where the public has been invited to bring bells to ring, joining all of the village’s church bells, which will ring in unison for one minute.
Next, the church’s Bell Choir will perform, and there will be gospel music sung by Showers of Blessings. A public reading of the proclamation will then be led by the Rev. Richard Boyer.
Put into effect by Lincoln’s executive order during the Civil War, the document was “not clean,” according to Tom Edmonds, the Southampton Historical Museum’s executive director. A panel of historians and authors will explore with “new eyes,” he said, the pluses and minuses of the document during a discussion led by Carol T. Spencer at 2:30 p.m. at the Rogers Mansion.
“It was the beginning of the process,” Mr. Edmonds said in a recent conversation, “but it only freed slaves in occupied territories.” The proclamation did not outlaw slavery, he said, and did not make ex-slaves citizens, but it made the destruction of slavery an explicit goal of the war. The proclamation outraged most white Southerners, angered some Northern Democrats, energized antislavery forces, and weakened those in Europe who wanted to intervene to help the Confederacy, a release from the museum said.
After the honors, Brenda Simmons, director of the African American Museum of the East End, will lead a festival featuring local jazz musicians and poets and offering a variety of appetizers and refreshments provided by East End businesses