The 43rd Jubilee celebration aims to educate on Black culture.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The block surrounding the Mann-Simons site on Richland and Marion Streets in Columbia was blocked off today for the 43rd Jubilee: A Festival of Black History and Culture.
“There are no maps, no highway signs that lead to skeeter beach. But the people know the way there,” Felton Eaddy said.
He was reading one of his signature poems, “Skeeter Beach,” as he played his West African Kalimba – or thumb piano.
Eaddy is one of about 10 people who founded the Columbia Jubilee 43 years ago.
“We were not really intentionally trying to create something that would have longevity, we sort of accidentally did it because we were young and spirited and the energy that meshed is the same kind of energy you’ll see on a college campus,” Eaddy said. “Kids come there from L.A., South Georgia, D.C. and they all get together and realize they have a lot more in common than they thought. And out of that energy grew this festival.”
The block was filled with vendors, food, and people sharing the history of their culture.
Mary Graham-Grant, a sweetgrass basket weaver has been setting up at the festival for over 15 years.
“I love them coming here – love having the Jubilee Festival because it gives me a chance to share my knowledge about sweetgrass baskets about where it originated and how it got to this country and how it’s done and that it’s an African art and a South Carolina art,” she said.
“The purpose was to come together and educate people about the American Civil War, its significance, and the role that African Americans played in it,” Donald West, a member of the Civil War reenactment group, 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry said. “And we have a beautiful display, replica materials and artifacts from the time period, as well as many different reading materials.”
“This is a good idea. Mixing culture, community, and education and I like coming,” he added. “So we’ve been participating in one form or another for the last 15 plus years.”
Eaddy described the experience as surreal.
“Looking at all the vendors, now, that we didn’t have before,” he said. “We had a few vendors and mostly everyone was within this green space. So it’s great to see that it’s growing and that the Historic Columbia Foundation is recognizing the history of this house and acknowledging it on a regular basis.”
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