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Our View: A chance to remember one of Columbus' most significant events

 

 

 

Over its almost 200-year history, the city of Columbus has had many days to celebrate. Some of those days -- VE Day and VJ Day, in particular -- were celebrations that were not exclusive to the city. They were celebrated in every town and village across our nation. 

 

But of all the historic moments in our city's long, rich history, there are none that can compare to the celebration of May 8, 1865. 

 

It was on that day that the black slaves of Columbus were notified by Union army officials that they were free men and women. The historic significance of that day cannot be overestimated and the anniversary of that day quickly become the most important date in the historic of the city's black community. 

 

Over the years, recognition of the day's significance seemed to decline. By the mid-70s, the annual celebrations -- parades, picnics, speeches and sporting events -- had subsided. 

 

But since 2005, Eight O'May, as it is called, has reemerged, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Mississippi School for Math & Science history teacher Chuck Yarborough and a group of his MSMS students. 

 

Tonight at 6, an ensemble of MSMS students will again celebrate Eight O'May with a performance at Sandfield Cemetery. As it has done with the annual Tales From the Crypt program during Pilgrimage, students dressed in period costume will recreate the lives of notable blacks citizens from the city's past. 

 

While for years Eight O'May had been considered a "black" event, we recognize today that the significance of that moment in our city's history is something to be remembered and celebrated by all citizens. Black history is American History and this portion of Black History is truly something to be honored by all citizens, regardless of race. 

 

In many respects, May 8, 1865 was the best moment in our city's history. 

 

We applaud MSMS students for helping us remember that and we encourage citizens to turn out for tonight's event.

 

 

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