Spartanburg’s Freedom Flag is a relic of our very own Juneteenth, which occurred as a parade and jubilee on September 22, 1865. It was Spartanburg’s first large celebration of emancipation and one of the first opportunities newly-freed African-Americans had to assemble and create a space fully their own. That tumultuous summer, the Confederacy collapsed, two companies of U. S. Army soldiers arrived into town, and civil rights made their first leap forward since the American Revolution.
To celebrate, a committee organized a luncheon to be held by a natural spring close to town and two of its members, believed to be Joseph and Priscilla Young, presented a quilt-like American flag sewn from spare clothes to the commanding officer, Captain Norris Crossman. On the day of the parade, the soldiers assembled on Morgan Square and marched alongside the jubilee organizers as they held this flag in a defiant show of solidarity and hope. The mood was both jubilant and tense. Town officials had warned the soldiers that such a parade might provoke a violent response from bitter ex-Confederates, to which the officers replied that the sooner they knew where in the country it was not safe to fly the nation’s flag, the better. Nothing of the sort occurred. Spectators of all kinds assembled but the weather was pleasant and the chicken dinner was delicious.
Soon after, the soldiers left Spartanburg, but Captain Crossman kept this flag as a souvenir of his time bringing freedom to the people of Spartanburg and in later generations it was given to a small museum in California. By this time, Spartanburg’s Emancipation Jubilee had been forgotten and the setbacks at the end of Reconstruction and during Jim Crow had tarnished the hope of those earlier days. But in 2015, research by Dr. Andrew Myers of USC Upstate revealed the flag’s existence and it returned to Spartanburg in time for the 150th anniversary of the jubilee.
Juneteeth Celebration of Freedom Day
2007-2008 Bill 4215: Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom Day - South Carolina Legislature Online