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Reopened Mann-Simons Site Helps Draw Big Crowd for Jubilee

History can be anything but boring, and the excitement it can offer was on display Saturday in downtown Columbia at the 38th Jubilee: Festival of Black History & Culture presented by Historic Columbia.

“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.”

The theme of this year’s festival was “Coming Home,” as the Mann-Simons site at the heart of the festival grounds reopened after more than a decade of research, a series of archeological digs that uncovered thousands of artifacts and months of renovations.

The new permanent exhibit was one of the most popular stops for festival guests Saturday. Through modern research and archaeological evidence, it tells a richer and more complex story of the African American families who lived and worked at the site.

Jubilee also featured 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 Big Redd. Guests also enjoyed a stand-up comedy performance by Akintunde, historic storytelling and artist demonstrations of broom and sweet grass basket making. “It’s just fun but also a chance for the kids to learn where they came from,” Maddy Simmons said as she enjoyed some festival food Saturday.

“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.”

More information on Historic Columbia, including the Mann-Simons Site, is available here.

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