New Year’s Eve Is Also Freedom’s Eve


Blacks are all-American. Their courage, fortitude and belief in God never wavered despite their history as slaves in America. We could all learn from the lesson set by the ancestors of blacks living today.

Blacks celebrate New Year’s Eve to commemorate their freedom from slavery.


On December 31st, 1862, the first Watch Night Services were celebrated in black communities in America.

They began as gatherings known as Freedom’s Eve. Black slaves and free blacks would come together in homes and churches to wait for news of the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation.

On January 1st, 1863, all slaves in the Confederate states were declared free. President Lincoln, a Republican, declared all slaves would forever be free in the rebellion states. Only 3.1 million of the country’s four million slaves were declared free however.

Frederick Douglass, A.M.E. member and pioneer abolitionist, shares the jubilant sentiments of this occasion when he declared, “We shout for joy that we live to record this righteous decree.”

The news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached the gatherings. People shouted, prayed, sang joyously and thanked God.

Since that day, blacks continue to gather on New Year’s Eve to praise God for bringing them safely through another year.

It served as a catalyst for the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery on December 18, 1865.

According to Metropolitan African American Episcopal Church:

Watch Night Service can be traced back to the Moravians, a Christian denomination from the Czech Republic during the mid-1700s. It was later adopted by the founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley. Each year on New Year’s Eve, members of the Methodist faith community gathered together to reflect on the previous year with a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving for God’s grace. In 1770, the first Watch Services were held in America at the St. George’s Methodist Church.

Two slaves, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, were a part of this congregation and they later left the church after experiencing racial discrimination. Today, they are renowned as the founders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.). The A.M.E. Church tradition subsequently inspired the celebration of Freedom’s Eve as African Americans gathered together to celebrate the progression of freedom’s journey.

A country partly founded for freedom did not extend that freedom to all of its populace from its inception. The Founding Fathers wanted to free the slaves but believed the country was still too weak and too vulnerable to the British. They left it for future generations.

Blacks never lost faith.

Of all immigrants to this country, it is the American black who has earned this special place in American history.


Sources: African-American Registry and Metropolitan Amec