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Renaming Freedom Day as Emancipation Day

May 5, 2021

Greetings, Attorney and Solicitor Generals,

Re: Renaming Freedom Day “Emancipation Day”

UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF), a 25-year-old, community-based organization with a focus on consciousness-raising, has been engaged in community collaborations and alliances globally. UEF is one of the 4 Kremandala media house pillars in Southside Belize City. We are housed in our Library of African and Indigenous Studies at 3304 Partridge Street in Belize City.

Similar to our African ancestors (Kriols), who, in 1888 in the colony of British Honduras, celebrated the 50th anniversary of their Emancipation in 1838, UEF has been leading our collective Emancipation Jubilee community gatherings since 2014 in Belize City, Belize. In various forms of correspondence and public expression in 2019, the Government of Belize recognized August 1st as Emancipation Day in Belize.

The Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, Honorable Kareem Musa, issued the Holidays (Appointment) Order 2020 by means of Statutory Instrument No. 181 of 2020 on 29th December 2020, and which was Gazetted on 30th December, 2020. Section 2 (b) of the aforementioned Statutory Instrument states the following:

“1st day of August to be observed as a public and bank holiday throughout Belize, to be known as Freedom Day.”

In the December 30, 2020 Belize Gazette No. 311 on page 444, a listing of the Public and Bank Holidays, 2021 was published. Of the 14 Public and Bank Holidays that were established, the 9th listing has Monday, August 2, as Freedom Day (in lieu of August 1). There was immediate objection to the use of the word “Freedom” instead of “Emancipation” both in traditional media and social media. The undersigned called WUB Morning Vibes talk show on Krem TV and Krem Radio on behalf of UEF to declare our organization’s strong objection during the first week of January 2021. The undersigned also posted the objection on Krem’s Sunday Review Facebook profile. Other actions were also taken.

On January 8, 2021 in the House of Representatives a parliamentary motion to designate New Holidays and Special Days 2021 was passed and was Gazetted on January 16, 2021. In that motion the correction to the naming of August 1 as Emancipation Day instead of Freedom Day was made. I am asking for the SI to amend the designation of SI No 181 of 2020 to reflect the parliamentary motion. I am seeking your confirmation whether this is the correct process for effecting the correction. If this is not the process, please tell me what the process is to make the correction.

Throughout the Caribbean, the name given to the day of the abolition of enslaved people is Emancipation Day. The name of the day is derived from the Slave Emancipation Act of August 1833, which came into effect in August 1834, but was not fully actualized in the Caribbean until 1838. Bearing in mind that enslavement in the Caribbean was a state-sponsored structure and process, the word “Emancipation” reflects that.

A timely response would be greatly appreciated.

In Solidarity!
Carolyn “YaYa” Marin Coleman
UEF Chairperson

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