Celebrate D.C. Emancipation Day on April 16

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in the District of Columbia. This act marked an important moment in American history, preceding Lincoln’s more famous Emancipation Proclamation, and is celebrated in D.C. with citywide events.

During the Civil War, D.C. was a common place of escape for slaves running from the slave states of the South. There was a lot of pressure on the president to abolish slavery in the city. In 1862, with the help of Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, Lincoln signed the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act, a unique law by Congress that abolished slavery in the District and allowed compensation to the former owners.

The black community of the city organized a parade to celebrate the anniversary in 1866. After an absence of 100 years, the parade returned in the 21st Century as part of an annual tradition – and a heightened awareness by citizens of this important step in the march of freedom. Several additional events around April 16 have come along since then.
The D.C. Emancipation Day Parade will run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, April 16, along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, between Third Street and 13th Streets. The parade will feature public officials, government agencies, community organizations, D.C. schools, the military, churches and universities. Since 2005, April 16 has been an official public holiday in the District of Columbia; local government offices will be closed.

At 3 p.m., Wednesday, there will be a free concert near the end of the parade location on 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The concert will include performances by Talib Kweli, Dough E. Fresh, DJ Kool, J Ivy, and D.C.’s own Black Alley Band. There will be vendors with food and drinks to add to the celebration.

To end the day of celebration on a more contemplative note, go the Walter Pierce Park on Calvert Street, NW, at the Duke Ellington Bridge. There will be a luminaire to honor the 8,428 African Americans who are buried in the park.

For more information on Emancipation Day events and the history of the holiday, visit: http://emancipation.dc.gov/

Photos below are from The Emancipation Day Panel; Celebrity Town Hall Discussion at the Lincoln Theatre, April 13.

Centric, a BET Network, the Office of Cable Television, the office of District Council member Vincent Orange and Howard University’s WHUT partner to present the Emancipation Day Panel, a town hall-style discussion focused on important topics affecting youth and the African-American community. Topics involved education, employment, closures of hospitals and healthcare facilities, anti-violence, prison reform and other social issues. Moderated by TV host, reporter and producer Robyn Murphy, the event’s panelists included actress and recording artist Toni Blackman, hip hop artist MC Hammer, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, social and political correspondent Michael Skolnik, president of Russell Simmon’s GlobalGrind.com, and recording artist Monie Love, founder of the Ladies First Women’s Empowerment Organization. The town hall will air as a one-hour television special, complemented with highlights from all official D.C. Emancipation Day celebrations, for future broadcast on CentricTV and WHUT Television.


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