Jubilee Festival of Heritage

Jubilee Festival of Heritage

Date Observed: Last weekend in August
Location: Columbia, South Carolina

The annual Jubilee Festival of Heritage in Columbia, South Carolina, celebrates African-American heritage and culture as well as the life of Celia Mann, a freed slave who was a midwife in Columbia before the Civil War. Many of the festivities take place over the last weekend in August at or near the Mann-Simons Cottage, named for Celia Mann, her second husband Bill Simons, and their descendents.

Historical Background

Celia Mann first lived in the one-room Columbia home about 1844. She was born a slave in 1799 in Charleston, South Carolina, and gained her freedom sometime during the 1840s. No record of how she was freed has been located. According to legend, she traveled from Charleston to Columbia on foot.

Along with earning her living as a midwife, Celia Mann helped establish the First Calvary Baptist Church in Columbia. The congregation originally met in the basement of the cottage.

Creation of the Festival

The Historic Columbia Foundation has managed the annual Jubilee Festival of Heritage since 1979. Organized in 1961, the Foundation preserves and restores homes of historic significance in Columbia, South Carolina. Among these house museums is the MannSimons Cottage, which was the home of Celia Mann from about 1844 until 1867. The home remained in the family until the 1960s when it was sold to the Columbia Housing Authority. As a result of a grassroots effort to preserve the home, the Historic Columbia Foundation gained supervision of the Mann-Simons Cottage in 1978, and since then has conducted tours of the home and other house museums, and maintains artifacts connected with Celia Mann and her descendents.


Each year the Jubilee Festival at the Mann-Simons Cottage demonstrates the heritage of African Americans as represented by the Mann-Simons family, who lived in the home for more than 100 years. Artifacts in the cottage show that members of the Mann-Simons family earned their livelihoods as bakers, tailors, seamstresses, and musicians. In the 1900s, some became educators. Exhibits also provide information on how the cottage was restored.

The festival has grown over the years, and now includes additional venues with trolley tours to African-American sites called "Homeplaces, Workplaces, Resting Places." Buffalo Soldiers reenactments, musical performances, African-American storytelling, African drumming, and craft demonstrations from basket-weaving to carving wooden walking sticks have been featured (see also Buffalo Soldiers Commemorations). Local African-American authors have appeared as well for book signings. Food vendors and craft activities for children are also part of the festival.

Contacts and Web Sites

Historic Columbia Foundation 1601 Richland St. Columbia, SC 29201 803-252-7742; fax: 803-929-7695

Mann-Simons Cottage 1403 Richland St. Columbia, SC 29201 803-252-7742

Further Reading

Edgar, Walter. South Carolina: A History. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998. "Jubilee: Festival of Heritage in Columbia, SC, Promotes Diversity and Cultural Awareness." Carolina Arts, August 2003. . "Jubilee! Historic Columbia Celebrates African-American Heritage This Weekend with Singing, Art, Dance, Drama." Leisure Magazine, The Times and Democrat (Columbia, SC), August 25, 2004. .
African-American Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations, 1st ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2007
References in periodicals archive ?
* 2006 Jubilee Festival of Heritage. This free festival honors the life and legacy of Celia Mann, a prominent local midwife, and one of South Carolina's most celebrated free Black women.