More than 3,100 slaves were freed on April 16, 1862. 149 years later, DC will host a celebration of the occasion with a federal holiday on April 15 and a daylong festival and parade on April 16. Including a student essay contest on ‘What Does DC Emancipation Mean to Me?” musical events, poetry and speeches, the day marks Emancipation Day, which was made an official public holiday in 2005.
The enslaved community in Washington, DC were freed nine months before President Abraham Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation. On April 16, 1862 President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia, making DC residents the “First Freed” by the federal government. Emancipation Day celebrations were held annually from 1866 through 1901 and then picked back up in 2002. This year, D.C. local government and public schools will close.
“It (Franklin Square) is where the original march was held when the first slaves were freed,” said Anise Jenkins, organizer of the commemoration of the rally and president of Stand Up for Democracy. “We link it to statehood because we need to be equal to the rest of America. We can visit Congress all day, but we won’t be equal to the rest of the country until we have our equal vote in Congress.”
This year taxpayers will get an extra three days to file their federal tax returns because the District of Columbia will observe Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15. Taxpayers will have until midnight Monday, April 18 to file their 2010 returns.
A rally for the D.C. Statehood will be held after at Franklin Square, on I St. NW, between 13th and 14th Streets.