The annual Emancipation Celebration will begin on Friday at the Concerned Citizens for a Better Community (CCBC) building, located at 1111 Rural Street. The celebration will last throughout the weekend.
The celebration is about the abolishment of slavery in the United States.
Beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. individuals are urged to gather at the CCBC building for a walk down memory lane, which will remind the individuals about their time in Boonville years ago. Beverages and snacks will be available for purchase.
On Saturday, Wilbur Dowe Park Day will be remembered at a shelter house in Harley Park at 11 a.m. The Morgan Street Baptist Church will be sponsoring the event and providing homemade desserts, fish, chicken, baked beans, salads and beverages for purchase as well.
On Sunday individuals will be able to attend a church of their choice to end the weekend celebrations.
According to a Columbia Tribune article from August, 2007 the festival has its roots in 1869, when an African American Civil War veteran from St. Louis named James Milton Turner came to Boonville. Education for freed slaves had been mandated by the new Constitution in 1865, requiring free public schools. Central Missouri was very slow to comply.
Turner, secretary of the Missouri Equal Rights League, was an agent for both the state department of education and the federal Freedmen’s Bureau. He established Boonville’s first an African American school on Spruce Street and became a leader in overcoming local resistance to the education of free African Americans statewide. He was the force behind more than 30 new schools and was involved with the founding of Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
He eventually was appointed by President Ulysses Grant to become minister and general counsel to Liberia, the first African American to hold such a position.
The CCBC joined with the Boonslick Outdoor Arts Committee to create a bronze sculpture of Turner that stands today with Hannah Cole and Walter Williams in Morgan Street Park in downtown Boonville.