October 1, 2022 free community celebration will feature historical re-enactments from the past 20 years highlighting important moments in Black history, live music, local food and drinks for purchase, free children’s activities and more!

On Saturday, October 1, 2022, from noon to 5 p.m., residents from around the St. Louis region and beyond are invited to celebrate Black history at Missouri’s first nationally-recognized Underground Railroad site, the historic Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing on the Mississippi Greenway (Riverfront Trail). That day, area residents can watch costumed performers present some of the most powerful scenes from the past 20 years of this event. This includes The “Unfair Fair” that chronicles the untold story of prejudice against people of color at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Attendees will also get a glimpse of what life was like in 1897 for the 25th Colored Infantry—the “Buffalo Soldiers” —during their famous 1,900-mile, 41-day journey by bicycle from Montana to St. Louis. Other performances are drawn from “The Great Jubilation” and “Beginnings of a Brave New World,” that commemorate the abolition of slavery and life after the Civil War in 1866, with a focus on the rise of black cultural institutions.

After two years of a virtual event due to the pandemic, the celebration is back on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi and will feature live music, games for children, as well as food, drinks, and artisan goods/crafts for purchase. The lineup of musical performers includes Ajai African Drummers, gospel performer Jesse Prather, the Gentlemen of Vision and Dre-Dre & Coast. The event is free and open to all ages.

“2022 is a significant milestone for this one-of-a-kind event that elevates and celebrates Black history,” says Angela da Silva, director of the National Black Tourism Network, historical reenactor director, and Mary Meachum event manager. “It’s important for all of us to hear these stories that are unknown, purposefully hidden or edited. We’ve pulled the ‘best of’ the past twenty years of historical reenactment themes—the scenes and stories that engaged, connected with, surprised and moved people. We want to recognize not only the hardships and sacrifices, but also honor the incredible contributions of Black people. We invite everyone to join us for great music, soulful food and to learn something new about Black history.”

The Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing site is located on the Mississippi Greenway (Riverfront Trail) on the Mississippi River, just north of Merchant’s Bridge in North St. Louis City (28 East Grand St. Louis, Missouri 63147). The site commemorates the work of Mary Meachum, a Black abolitionist who guided many enslaved people to freedom by helping them to cross over to the free state of Illinois, and later helped to spearhead education efforts for Black men, women and children in St. Louis.

This event is a partnership of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, National Black Tourism Network, Missouri Botanical Garden, Youth & Family Center, National Underground Railroad Network, the City of St. Louis, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis County Library, and the Historic Daniel Boone Home, Great Rivers Greenway, Missouri Division of Tourism. Thanks to First Student for providing the free shuttle from parking spaces to the site. For more information, visit www.MaryMeachum.org.