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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ada May Day: A Mississippi Juneteenth

Today is June 19, better known in many circles as Juneteenth. On this memorable day in 1865, slaves in Texas were told that they were free, had been free, in fact, for several years. (Want to know more about Juneteenth? Check out our nuggets from a few years ago.) Nowadays, the day is celebrated across the United States as a day of African-American heritage and freedom. One of our faithful patrons mentioned Ada May Day to us as the Mississippi alternative. We have to admit, we had to look this one up (but boy, are we glad we did!)

Ada May Day springs from the Mississippi dialect for the eighth of May. Traditionally, this was the day that, in north-central Mississippi, was celebrated as "Emancipation Day, Mr. Lincoln's Day, or Freedom Day" (Clarion Ledger). It turns out that Mississippi was surrendered to Union Army forces on May 6, 1865 by a general in rural Alabama. Conjecture and folklore state that the news didn't reach the northern Mississippi area until two days later, on May 8.

Though the day has not been taken up nationally, like Juneteenth, it is still celebrated by Mississippians. We found one such celebration in this news article from The Dispatch (covering Columbus, Starkville, and the Golden Triangle). Many thanks to the McCain Library at the University of Southern Mississippi for their help tracking down this elusive holiday. We wish you a belated Ada May and a very happy Juneteenth!

Maines, John. "Ada May." Clarion Ledger 8 May 1987. Print.

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