Sankofa Garden Homes: Happy Jubilee! Our freedom, our food

CLARENCE GLOVER | 1/13/2019, 11:52 a.m.
Across America on Dec. 3l, millions of African Americans gathered together in churches for Watch Night Services to pray 2018 ...
Professor Freedom enjoying a Jubilee Day freedom meal of collard greens grown in his Sankofa Garden, along with blacked-eyed peas and brown rice. He used smoked turkey rather than pork in both dishes for a healthier alternative. Albert Williams


At the heart of much of the South’s issues was slavery. The South relied on slavery for labor to work the fields. Many people in the North believed that slavery was wrong and evil. These people were called abolitionists. They wanted slavery made illegal throughout the United States. Abolitionists such as John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Harriet Beecher Stowe began to convince more and more people of the evil of slavery. This made the South fearful that their way of life would come to an end.

Bleeding Kansas

The first fighting over the slavery issue took place in Kansas. In 1854, the government passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowing the residents of Kansas to vote on whether they would be a slave state or a free state. The region was flooded with supporters from both sides. They fought over the issue for years. Several people were killed in small skirmishes giving the confrontation the name Bleeding Kansas. Eventually Kansas entered the Union as a free state in 1861.

Abraham Lincoln

The final straw for the South was election of Abraham Lincoln to president of the United States. Lincoln was a member of the new anti-slavery Republican Party. He managed to get elected without even being on the ballot in ten of the Southern states. The Southern states felt that Lincoln was against slavery and also against the South.


When Lincoln was elected, many of the Southern states decided they no longer wanted to be a part of the United States. They felt that they had every right to leave. Starting with South Carolina, 11 states would eventually leave the United States and form a new country called the Confederate States of America. Lincoln said they did not have the right to leave the United States and sent in troops to stop the South from leaving. The Civil War had begun.

While the debate would continue, enslaved and freed African people would gather on Dec. 31 and give birth to Watch Freedom Night and later celebrate President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, Jubilee Day.

Although freedom was not immediate for all enslaved African people, the Emancipation Proclamation opened the door of freedom, which would never be closed again in America. In 1865, enslaved Africans in Texas received the news of freedom, giving birth to the international celebration of Juneteenth.

With the dawn of freedom came a celebration that would be commemorated with Hoppin’ John and collard greens.

Hoppin’ John is a black-eyed peas and rice dish of African origins dating back to 1847 in the Carolina Sea Islands. Eating black-eyed peas on Jubilee Day would be a sign of good luck in the new year of freedom, while eating greens represented money and prosperity – two things freed African men, women and children would surely need as they began their new journey into freedom in America.

Do an internet search for “Hoppin’ John recipe.” You can replace pork with smoked turkey.

So let us renew the celebrations of Watch Freedom Eve and Jubilee Day as we eat our freedom food in years to come and pass on to future generations the meaning of these sacred African American holidays!

In the words of an enslaved African on the eve of freedom, “No more that!”

Good Sankofa Gardening!

Sankofa Gardening Homes is provided by Clarence Glover, known as Professor Freedom of Sankofa Education Services, for the purpose of “taking the chains off our brains, so our minds can work.” He can be reached at clarencegloverjr@aol.com.