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Watch Night Re-enactment at Nazareth College, Nov. 19

  • Published: October 22, 2013

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Media: Julie Long (585) 389-2456

Watch Night Re-enactment at Nazareth College, Nov. 19

Nazareth College is going back in time to recreate Watch Night (1862). Nazareth’s Institute for Pluralism and the Center for Spirituality are collaborating to create a historical re-enactment of the event. The event will unfold on Tuesday, November 19 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Linehan Chapel located in the Golisano Academic Center; this event is free and open to the public. Nazareth College is located at 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, N.Y., 14618. Please contact Debbie Cohen, executive secretary for the Institute for Pluralism at (585) 389-2881.

History of Watch Night:

The first Watch Night was Dec. 31, 1862, as abolitionists and others waited for word — via telegraph, newspaper or word of mouth — that the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued.

The scenes will unfold at a “hush harbor” near a Southern plantation, and in Rochester’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, and will be re-enacted by AKWAABA: the Heritage Associates living history performers. Nazareth Visiting Community Scholar David Anderson, Ph.D., and AWKWAABA associate says,  “Each of us accepts that his or her 19th century ancestors played out such scenes, inside houses of worship, and beneath the canopies of trees, 50 yards from their master’s house.  Our ancestors, were people acting on faith, and determined to be free.”

Watch Night, an end-of-year religious service was brought to colonial America by Europeans. By mid-nineteenth century, “Watch Night,” had been transformed into a sacred ritual for millions of African-descended people.  At secret worship services on southern plantations, as well as in the nominally free black churches in the North, people of color reaffirmed their humanity and were determined to become free.

Founded in 1924, Nazareth College is located on a close-knit, suburban campus in the dynamic, metropolitan region of Rochester, N.Y. The College offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs in health and human services, education, and management. Nazareth's strong cultures of service and community prepare students to be successful professionals and engaged citizens. The College enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students.

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