Emancipation Day

We all owe a debt to Walter Perry. When he brought the Emancipation Festival to Windsor, it was a sight. The parade was huge, the musical acts were wonderful and famous people who looked just like me came from all over the world to celebrate with us. We’d watch the parade and then walk up to Jackson Park and spend the rest of the time there often breaking off to take part in something with the church group or to watch the acts that were on the stage all day. I saw the Miracles and the Four Tops for the first time on the Emancipation Stage before they became the legends of Motown they are now.

I sang “Blue Moon” in the Talent Show one year and while I didn’t win, I saw Florence Ballard in the crowd and she clapped for me. She had a big smile on her face and I just couldn’t look away because I was so surprised to see her there.. She was the most beautiful and talented woman and my favourite of the Supremes. We’d just seen them on television nowt long before the festival and I was absolutely beside myself at the glamour. I was all of 11 or 12 and had only ever sung in church but I can’t tell you what that did for my soul to see this icon that I’d seen on television cheering ME on. I miss those days and I miss them most for our children. Things have never been easy but there was a sense of being part of something wonderful that is so rare in a lifetime.

Colette – 71 – Windsor, Ontario

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