Images by The Great River Greenway
In the historic great city of St. Louis, the 21st Annual Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing Celebration is set to ignite a cultural explosion on Saturday, October 14th. This event, taking place at 25 E. Grand Ave., St. Louis, MO 63147, marks an important intersection of history, music, and community spirit. This year’s celebration is not only a tribute to Mary Meachum, an abolitionist who played a pivotal role in guiding enslaved people to freedom across the Mississippi River but also a testament to the enduring power of music in the Black community. After the abolition of slavery, a wave of Black migration followed the mighty Mississippi River, carrying with it a rich and diverse musical history.
This musical journey has evolved from field hollers to the blues, from ragtime to jazz, and now includes the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop. It was in the Bronx, New York, that DJ Kool Herc sparked a movement that would go on to captivate the world. As we celebrate this milestone, we are reminded of the incredible influence that Black music has had on cultures worldwide, resonating with joy, blues and the inner lives of its creators.
The event runs from 12 pm to 4 pm, and is open to all, embodying the spirit of community. Visitors can expect food and drinks for sale, the work of talented local artists and vendors, children’s activities, and electrifying live music performances that will get everyone on their feet.
One of the highlights of the celebration is a journey through time, as each era in Black music is accompanied by a historical context, illuminating the experiences and contributions of Black communities in St. Louis throughout history. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the cultural tapestry woven by countless individuals who shaped the musical landscape.
Moreover, the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing Celebration is not just a day of entertainment but a chance to reflect on the courage and resilience of Mary Meachum and her husband, John Berry Meachum, who helped so many find their path to freedom.
Futhermore, May 21, 1855, stands out as a crucial moment when Mary Meachum attempted to guide a group of nine enslaved people across the Mississippi to Illinois, where slavery had been outlawed. Today, the National Park Service recognizes this site as a part of the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, a symbol of hope and liberation.
As we come together to celebrate history, music, and community, the 21st Annual Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing Celebration, reminds us of the power of unity and the enduring legacy of those who fought for freedom. Most importantly, it’s a day to honor our past, celebrate our present, and look forward to a future of continued progress and harmony.