Hosanna School Museum Hosts Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration



Janice Curtis Greene (front, right) will portray former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and Brittany Martin (back, left) will portray Edmonia Highgate, Hosanna School’s first teacher, at Hosanna School Museum’s Juneteenth celebration on June 23. (Photo by Donna Lewis)


Hosanna School Museum will hold its second annual Juneteenth celebration festival on Saturday, June 23, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the museum, 2424 Castleton Road in Darlington. The festival is open to the public, free of charge, and takes place rain or shine.


Juneteenth is a nationally recognized day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States and celebrates African American history and culture.


This year’s celebration will feature Buffalo Soldiers in addition to living history presentations featuring re-enactors portraying Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Edmonia Highgate, the first teacher at Hosanna School; lectures and book signings; African dancers and drummers with audience participation; liturgical dancers; a variety of musical performances; craft vendors; displays from community organizations and more.


Special activities for children will include griots (storytellers); visits from Ferrous and Ripcord from the Aberdeen IronBirds and Miss Juneteenth of Delaware; horse rides and photos with the Buffalo Soldiers; and crafts organized by Jerusalem Mill.


The day will also feature a variety of food trucks. Hosanna AME Church’s famous fish dinners will also be available.


Other special features at the celebration include a money tree raffle and silent auction (including an overnight hotel stay and dinner package at Courtyard Aberdeen at Ripken Stadium). All proceeds go toward educational and interpretive programming and continued preservation of the historic buildings owned by Hosanna School Museum, including McComas Institute and Mt. Zion Church in Joppa.


WAMD will broadcast live from Juneteenth.


Hosanna is partnering on the celebration with the Harford County Alumni Council, Hosanna AME Church and Havre de Grace Rotary Club. Sponsors of Juneteenth include Harford County Government and the Office of Community and Economic Development.


“Last year’s Juneteenth exceeded our expectations,” said Dr. Iris Leigh Barnes, executive director of Hosanna School Museum. “This year we have included more performers and activities for youth. We want to see whole families celebrating with us.”


At the Juneteenth celebration, living history re-enactor Brittany Martin will portray Edmonia Highgate, the first teacher at Darlington School, later called Hosanna School. Highgate is a historical figure who worked alongside nationally recognized abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Jermain Loguen and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. While preparing for this living history presentation, historians and volunteers at Hosanna have discovered new information about Highgate and her role at Hosanna.


“Education, culture and achievement are just as important today as it was when Hosanna School was first built more than 150 years ago,” added Roxann Redd-Wallace,  education coordinator and Juneteenth committee chair. “We welcome everyone on June 23 to help us celebrate—in grand festival style—the anniversary of the ending of slavery and to honor our ancestors while maintaining a legacy for future generations.”


Businesses and individuals interested in sponsorship of the Juneteenth celebration or in donating an item for the silent auction should contact Roxann Redd-Wallace at 410-457-4161.


Hosanna School Museum was the first of three Freedmen’s Bureau schoolhouses erected in Harford County. Also known as the Darlington School or Berkley School, Hosanna was built on land owned by James Paca, the son of Cupid Paca, a free African American who bought 50 acres of land from Berkley to Darlington.


The Freedmen’s Bureau funded the construction of the two-story frame building, which was used as a school, community meeting place and church. Operation of the school was assumed by the Harford County School Commissioners in 1879. Hosanna remained active as a schoolhouse for African American children until 1946.


Two years later, in 1948, Hosanna Community House, Inc. (current owner) was formed. The school building was used as a community meeting place until 1954 when Hurricane Hazel sheared off the top floor. With limited funds, the board preserved what was left of the building by placing a roof on the remaining structure. After these repairs, the building was once again a community center, although one story, used primarily by the Boys Scouts.


Significant restoration of the building began in 1983, and the second floor was rebuilt in 2005, returning it to its original two-story structure. Currently it is a living schoolhouse museum, attracting visitors from all over the country. The building is also available for community meetings or public and private and events.


For more information or to make a donation in support of the history and culture of Harford County through the lens of the African American experience, visit hosannaschoolmuseum.org.

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