On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, granting freedom to 3,100 enslaved persons in the District of Columbia. The act passed nine months before Lincoln’s famous Emancipation Proclamation and granted freedom to enslaved persons in the District of Columbia as the country's first freed from the institution of slavery. In 2005, DC Emancipation Day was made an official public holiday. Each year, educational and commemorative activities are held celebrating the end of slavery in the nation’s capital.
Schedule of Events
Emancipation Day Panel Discussion
April 13, 2014, 6 p.m. Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St NW, Washington, DC. The town hall-style discussion focuses on important topics affecting youth and the African American community including education, employment, closures of hospitals and healthcare facilities, anti-violence, prison reform and other emerging social issues. Moderated by TV host, reporter, and producer Robyn Murphy, the event's panelists will include: actress and recording artist Toni Blackman; hip hop artist MC Hammer; Public Enemy’s Chuck D; President of Russell Simmon’s GlobalGrind.com, and social and political correspondent Michael Skolnik; and recording artist and founder of the Ladies First Women’s Empowerment Organization, Monie Love.
April 16, 2014. Washington DC. Emancipation Day will begin with a parade at 11 a.m. along Pennsylvania Avenue. Parade participants will include DCPS and College marching bands, dancers, all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, children’s characters and large balloon floats, auto clubs, numerous neighborhood and community associations, DC Statehood organizations, and much more. See Photos of the parade.
Emancipation Day Concert
April 16, 2014, 4 p.m. Freedom Plaza, Washington DC. The star-studded DC Emancipation Day concert will begin with the West Virginia State University Jazz Ensemble and includes special performances by Talib Kweli, MC Lyte, Arrested Development, Raheem DeVaughn, DJ Kool, Doug E Fresh, J Ivy and DC’s own Black Alley Band. No tickets are needed for this event.
Emancipation Day Fireworks
April 16, 2014, 8:30 p.m. Freedom Plaza, Washington DC. An impressive display of fireworks will light up the sky shortly after the concert ends.
Wreath Laying Ceremony
April 16, 2014, - 9:00 a.m. African American Civil War Memorial, Vermont Avenue & U Street, NW Washington DC. Free and open to the public.
President Lincoln's Cottage
April 16, 2014. Tour the historic landmark and receive a free souvenir scroll of the DC Compensated Emancipation. If you dine and drink at Petworth Citizen (829 Upshur Street NW), the restaurant will donate a portion of all sales that day to President Lincoln's Cottage.