Emancipation Day celebrates the emancipation and freeing of all slaves in Bermuda. In celebration of emancipation, people from across Bermuda gathered for picnics and friendly games of cricket. In 1901, it was decided that each year they would have an annual cricket match, with the Somerset and St. George’s clubs competing for a silver cup.
Cup Match is a celebration of the freedom now enjoyed by all Bermudians and also remembers one of the people who played a significant role in making it happen.
“In 2020, Bermuda became the first country to have a national holiday named after a Black woman,” says Kristin White, a Bermudian blogger, entrepreneur and owner of a local boutique called Long Story Short. “Mary Prince Day is celebrated as the second day of Cup Match, as part of our emancipation celebrations.”
Mary Prince is credited as the first female African slave to publish a memoir of her life as a slave. She was born into slavery in Bermuda and grew up living a hard life at the hands of cruel slave owners. The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave was published in 1831 in London, England, by the Anti-Slavery Society. The book was a bestseller, with three printings in the first year, and was credited with helping to move the abolition of slavery forward across the British Empire.
“I still live in the hope that God will find a way to give me my liberty,” White quotes Prince on her blog. “I feel great sorrow when I hear some people in this country say that the slaves do not want to be free. They put a cloak about the truth. We want to be free. To be free is very sweet.”
White has created T-shirts with these words—To be free is very sweet—to encourage Bermudians to remember Prince and her role in emancipation.
She is also collecting donations in her store to support The Salvation Army St. George’s Corps and the community and family services work in her community.
Major Shelley Kerr is the divisional corps ministries secretary in the Bermuda Division.