Emancipation Celebration; Parade and Wreath-Laying Mark Lincoln's Freeing of D.C. Slaves

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 17, 2005 | Go to article overview

Emancipation Celebration; Parade and Wreath-Laying Mark Lincoln's Freeing of D.C. Slaves


Byline: Denise Barnes, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Crowds gathered throughout the District yesterday to mark the 143rd anniversary of the end of slavery in the city with an array of events that included a solemn wreath-laying ceremony on Capitol Hill and an upbeat parade along Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest.

The day's events commemorated April 16, 1862, when President Lincoln signed the law ending slavery in the District, which freed 3,100 slaves. Nine months later, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves in the South.

This is the first year that Emancipation Day was an official city holiday.

Bernard Gibson, who watched high-stepping college and high school bands in the parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, said he was pleased the city had made the day a public holiday.

"So many children coming up today don't know the city's history," said Mr. Gibson, 69, of Northeast. "It was not always the way it is now - the struggles we went through. I remember People's Drug Store. We couldn't sit at the counter and have a meal. So you can see what's going on today and how far we have come."

The parade also included a horse and carriage that carried Mayor Anthony A. Williams and council member Vincent Orange, both Democrats.

"This is our holiday," said Mr Orange, the parade's grand marshal. "Now we can focus on voting rights and use this day to let the world know that we have no representation [in Congress]."

More than 100 people gathered at the Emancipation Statue in Lincoln Park, adorned with a wreath of red carnations, for a morning of reflection, soul-stirring spirituals by the All Souls Church Jubilee Singers and a historical overview of the District's emancipation by author and historian C.R. Gibbs.

Mr. Gibbs discussed D.C. life before the Civil War, when blacks could not own dogs and women and children were kidnapped and sold. …

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