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East Tennesseans commemorate Eighth of August

The Beck Cultural Exchange Center is holding it annual Eight of August Jubilee event Sunday to commemorate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and its historical ties to East Tennessee.
Beck Cultural Center commemorates the Eighth of August
Beck Cultural Center commemorates the Eighth of August(Beck Cultural Exchange Center)
Published: Aug. 9, 2020 at 7:38 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -The Beck Cultural Exchange Center is holding it annual Eight of August Jubilee event Sunday to commemorate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and its historical ties to East Tennessee.

On August 8th, 1863, Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson freed his then enslaved people. It was nearly a year after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, which officially made slavery illegal across the nation.

According to Beck Cultural Center Director Rene Kesler, Johnson’s illegitimate children and Sam Johnson whose family rests at the Freedmen’s Mission Historic Cemetery that sits near Knoxville College, were among the the freed Tennesseans.

”History records that Sam Johnson established the 8th of August, known as the day of emancipation,” Kesler said.

Sam Johnson’s family was honored 157 years later with a morning prayer and ceremony. The Beck hosted a three-day weekend celebration to commemorate that day in history with a town hall meeting and an online-jubilee. Discussions surrounding black progression, history and music kept the commemoration going this year.

A number of people in the community were honored and thanked for their continued work during the Beck’s streamed red-carpet event Saturday night. It also highlighted how far the nation has come and how far it still needs to go- noting the killings of black men and women that are prompting civil unrest.

”Much of history, far too often, is repeated. We can’t change history, but we can atone for it and we can learn from it,” Kesler said.

The Beck is airing its Eighth of August Jubilee encore event Sunday night at 8 p.m. on Community Television of Knoxville. You can watch the event here.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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