Tshombe Selby and John Buford. Photo by Biff Jennings

The Pea Island Preservation Society will host their annual Juneteenth outdoor celebration on the grounds of the Pea Island Cookhouse Museum on Wednesday, June 19.

The public is invited to the Cookhouse Museum in Manteo at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday to hear the Sounds of Freedom as sung by beloved Roanoke Island native and acclaimed opera singer, Tshombe Selby.

Selby grew up singing and playing piano at Haven Creek Baptist Church, a local church connected to the story of the enslaved and the fight for freedom during the Civil War. A graduate of Manteo High School and Elizabeth City State University, he has been performing as a tenor with the prestigious Metropolitan Opera in New York for the past several years.

2024 represents Selby’s fourth consecutive return as the headliner for the Pea Island Preservation Society’s Juneteenth program. His return is also especially exciting this year, as John Buford will be returning to accompany him on piano. Buford, a much-loved Dare County School music teacher, was named the district’s 2023 Teacher of the Year and is known for his commitment to the community, and for inspiring his students to be the best they can be.

The Cookhouse Museum is located at 622 Sir Walter Raleigh Street in the opposite direction of downtown Manteo. Parking will be available at Haven Creek Baptist Church, which is located on Sir Walter Raleigh Street just a couple of blocks away, and at the Head Start building located directly across the street from the museum.

The museum has plenty of outdoor space, with trees scattered throughout. Outdoor seating will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those attending are also encouraged to bring lawn chairs and/or blankets for seating.

“On the morning of Juneteenth, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., we will also again offer our popular Juneteenth colorful T-shirts for sale at the Cookhouse Museum for those who would like to wear the shirt to the celebration,” stated the Pea Island Preservation Society in a press release. “We will also be offering these tees for sale at the 5:30 pm Juneteenth event. Our hope is to fill the Cookhouse Museum grounds with as many of these colorful tees as possible each year as a stark reminder of the importance of freedom for all.”

Freedom Trail exhibit and silhouette. Photo from the National Park Service

Representatives from the National Park Service will also be present to share information about the new Freedom Trail at the Fort Raleigh Natural Historic Site on Roanoke Island.

The new trail, which opened to the public on June 1, brings to life stories of those who lived at the Freedmen’s Colony on Roanoke Island, a place where thousands who were once enslaved came seeking safety and freedom during the Civil War. The trail includes educational signs and life-sized steel silhouettes throughout the 2.5-mile trail highlighting the hardships and triumphs experienced by the enslaved.

“Representatives from the Outer Banks History Center, located at Festival Park on Roanoke Island, will also be there to share information about the center, and the importance of preserving documents, photographs, and other information about the Black history of the area,” stated the press release.The celebration this year will also mark the return of the beloved Roanoke Island hometown group, The Echoes of Heritage, another local favorite known for singing spiritual songs. We are also delighted that this year, Linwood Bennet, the great, great-grandson of Reverend Zion Hall Berry, the founder of the historic Haven Creek Baptist Church, and a dynamic preacher in his own right, will do the invocation prayer.”

“Our Juneteenth celebration provides the opportunity for all, especially those who live on or who are visiting the Outer Banks, to learn of the local connections to the story of the enslaved and the free, reflect on the past, and to look to the future. So plan to attend and invite your friends, family, and neighbors to accompany you! The Cookhouse Museum honors the history of Keeper Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers. Etheridge, who grew up enslaved on Roanoke Island, was the nation’s first black commander in the US Life-Saving Service (USLSS), and the crew he commanded was the only in USLSS history that was an all-black crew.

“Also, a very special thanks to our lead sponsor the Don and Catherine Bryan Cultural Series, and to Towne Bank, the Town of Manteo, Surfin Spoon (for their delicious ice-cream treats), and to all who helped to make this event a welcomed celebration each year!”

If bad weather prevails, the celebration will be held inside the Haven Creek Baptist Church.

The post Pea Island Preservation Society to host Juneteenth celebration on June 19 appeared first on Island Free Press.

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