Nearly 1,000 visitors, almost double last year's attendance, attended the second annual Juneteenth celebration festival on Saturday at Hosanna School Museum in Darlington.
Juneteenth is a nationally recognized day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States and celebrates African American history and culture.
This year’s celebration featured living history presentations featuring re-enactors portraying Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Edmonia Highgate, the first teacher at Hosanna School; lectures and book signings; African dancers and drummers with audience participation; liturgical dancers; a variety of musical performances; craft vendors; displays from community organizations; and fundraising activities to benefit the museum.
Special activities for children included griots — storytellers; visits from Ripcord from the Aberdeen IronBirds and Miss Juneteenth of Delaware; and horse rides and photos with the Buffalo Soldiers. The day also featured a variety of food trucks and Hosanna AME Church's famous fish dinners.
"The early morning showers did not put a damper on the day's festivities. From the opening dance by Anointed Ones Praise Dancers in front of our historic school, which brought me to tears, to our living biographers, African ancestry and African clothing talks, our visitors received an edu-tainment like no other," Roxann Redd-Wallace, program and education coordinator for Hosanna School Museum, said.
"To top it off, the Aberdeen and Baltimore Buffalo Soldiers joined us in full regalia imparting wisdom from the elders,” Redd-Wallace said. “One of our local elders,100-year-young Corrina Kennard, even came out to enjoy the festivities. This was a day for all ages to enjoy the atmosphere of community."
Hosanna partnered on the Juneteenth celebration with the Harford County Alumni Council, Hosanna AME Church and Havre de Grace Rotary Club. Sponsors were Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Xi Delta Omega Chapter; Harford County Office of Community and Economic Development; APG Federal Credit Union; and Bel Air Construction Company.
Hosanna School Museum was the first of three Freedmen's Bureau schoolhouses erected in Harford County to educate children of freed slaves.
Also known as the Darlington School or Berkley School, Hosanna was built on land owned by James Paca, the son of Cupid Paca, a free African American who owned land from Berkley to Darlington.
Hosanna is a living schoolhouse museum, attracting visitors from all over the country. The building is also available for community meetings or public and private and events.
For more information or to make a donation in support of the history and culture of Harford County through the lens of the African American experience, visit hosannaschoolmuseum.org.