By Joel Hall
Edward DuBose, president of the Georgia State National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will be one of several notable speakers joining the Clayton County NAACP for its annual Jubilee Day Service.
This year's observance will start at 10 a.m., New Year's Day, at Center of Hope Ministries in Riverdale.
"We have this celebration every year to remind people of their history," said Dexter Matthews, president of the Clayton County NAACP . "If [the Civil War] had gone another way, we could still be enslaved today.
"A lot of people stay up to go to the Watch Night services the night before," he added. "We hope all of those people can get up the next day and celebrate with us."
Matthews said the Clayton branch has conducted its Jubilee Day Service since the late 1980s. He said the idea behind the service is to celebrate Jan. 1, 1863, when president Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law banning slavery.
The service will feature prayer, scripture from the Old Testament and the New Testament, several songs, and greetings from local elected officials.
The Clayton branch of the NAACP will install its 2009 officers: Dexter Matthews (president, fourth term); Danny Hayes (1st vice president, first term); Leon Booker (2nd vice president, first term); Devadas Lynton (3rd vice president, first term); and Eloise Archibald (secretary, first term).
Linda Granger and Simona Carter will be installed on the Clayton County NAACP's executive committee.
DuBose is expected to speak on a wide range of topics, including the 100th year anniversary of the founding of the NAACP; the significance of the inauguration of Barack Obama as U.S. president; the Clayton County school system's accreditation crisis, and the Clayton County Board of Commissioner's recent decision to move the historic Union Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church Cemetery.
"I think that Clayton County is struggling to find it's own identity," Dubose said in preparation for his keynote address. "A lot of those problems, the moving of the graves ... the school board ... they are not black-on-white [issues], they are black-on-black. I can only be in one place during this service, and this is the branch I chose to celebrate with."
DuBose said it is important for all people to come together and appreciate the significance of the abolition of slavery.
"For a lot of people, they celebrate it now as watching the new year come in," he said. "During that time, [African Americans] were watching and waiting to see if we really would be free. It's important for all people to attend this event, because it is a chance for all people, black and white, to celebrate the meaning of jubilee."
The Jubilee Day Service will take place at Center of Hope Ministries, located at 492 Roy Huie Road in Riverdale.