Join Historic Columbia at Jubilee: Festival of Black History & Culture from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 17. Now in its 38th year, this free outdoor festival brings artisans, dancers, musicians and storytellers together to celebrate South Carolina’s black history and culture on the grounds of the Mann-Simons Site.
“When the festival started in 1978, it was a small community celebration,” said Robin Waites, Historic Columbia’s executive director. “Nearly four decades later, Jubilee has grown into a can’t-miss event that draws thousands of attendees from all over the state and region to celebrate with live music, performances, art, food and much more.”
This year’s Jubilee will feature a variety of live R&B, hip-hop, gospel and jazz music from South Carolina performers, including Collette, Katera, The Benedict College Concert Choir, Reverend Matthew Mickens and The Highway Travelers and more. Guests can also enjoy a stand-up comedy performance by Akintunde, historic storytelling and artist demonstrations of broom and sweet grass basket making. The festival will include family-friendly activities and games, including the Jubilee Quest, blacksmith workshops, face painting, marble making and more. Throughout the day, guests are invited to take house tours of the Mann-Simons Site and the Modjeska Monteith Simkins House for $1 and take the African American Historic Sites Bus Tour for $2. In addition, there will be a variety of outdoor vendors selling food, beverages, art and wares.
Jubilee’s theme this year is “Coming Home” and marks the reopening of the Mann-Simons Site after more than a decade of research, a series of archaeological digs that uncovered thousands of artifacts and months of renovations. Through modern research and archaeological evidence, the new permanent exhibit at the Mann-Simons Site tells a richer and more complex story of the African American families who lived and worked at the site.
“Jubilee was founded as a way to bring local communities together to celebrate the strength, perseverance and entrepreneurial spirit of the African American families who lived, worked and worshiped at the Mann-Simons Site,” said Waites. “We are proud to continue the 38-year tradition as we reopen this important site to the public.”
Although only one house stands today, the Mann-Simons Site was a collection of commercial and domestic spaces owned and operated by the same African American family from at least 1843 until 1970. The property and its multiple buildings changed considerably over time to better accommodate the needs, tastes and aspirations of this remarkable family. In 1970, through eminent domain, the Columbia Housing Authority acquired the site, leading to a grassroots preservation movement that saved the main house, which opened as a museum in 1978. Today, the Mann-Simons Site reflects the entrepreneurial spirit, which empowered the family to become successful middle-class bakers, tailors, seamstresses and musicians.
The new exhibit and renovations at the Mann-Simons Site were made possible in part by the following sponsors: City of Columbia, NBSC a division of Synovus Bank, Member FDIC, Columbia Chapter of the Links, McDonald’s of Columbia, Gloria and Marshall James, Richland County Conservation Commission and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Jubilee is made possible by the festival’s generous sponsors and is a free community event that will be held along the streets outside of the Mann-Simons Site at 1403 Richland Street in downtown Columbia. Visit JubileeSC.org for more information on the festival and the full line-up of entertainment and artists.