Emancipation Day

CHS-00845On April 16, 1862, in the middle of the Civil War, slavery ended in the District of Columbia. Enslaved African Americans were released from bondage and the city government paid owners for the loss of their human property.

Based on years of advocacy and the compelling presence of African Americans taking their freedom into their own hands and escaping to the District, President Lincoln issued an Executive Order ending slavery here. Church bells across the city rang in jubilation as formerly enslaved people celebrated their freedom and citizenship.

Loretta Carter Hanes, a native Washingtonian, activist, and educator, led a decades-long effort to have the city recognize April 16th as a city holiday. On April 16, 2005, DC Emancipation Day was observed for the first time as a legal public holiday.


Emancipation Day Programming

April 14

“Freedom Songs” by Sekou Ayo Handy-Kendi
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Carnegie Library, McKinley Theatre

“Freedom Songs” is an original one-woman, story performance, created and performed by Sekou Ayo Handy-Kendi. Sekou’s performance dramatically re-enacts D.C. Emancipation Day through the eyes of an enslaved women and those around her. The performance includes Negro Spirituals to emphasize the daily life challenges and a historical understanding of this unique emancipation period. A question and answer session will follow the performance, including audience participation around the topic of diversity and a lively discussion on modern-day reparations and D.C. statehood.

About the Artist
“Mama Ayo – the Storyteller” has presented notable story performances locally at the National Theater, National Harbor, the Smithsonian, Fort Dupont Summer Theater, P.G. Mall and has been featured at numerous Kwanzaa, Juneteenth and D.C. Emancipation Day events hosted by schools, churches, hospitals, health fairs and community programs. Nationally she has performed with African American Women on Tour, New York’s Kwanzaa Expo, and Atlanta’s Juneteenth event.

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April 15

Collections Open House
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
HSW_20150221_MadamOnTheMall_009Join the Historical Society as we celebrate and honor D.C. Emancipation Day on Friday April 15th and Saturday April 16th with an Open House. Visit the Kiplinger Research Library at the Carnegie Library to learn about collections related to slavery and Emancipation, including: petitions for freedom, pamphlets, photographs, lithographs, and jail records. Staff members from the Historical Society will guide visitors through the impact of slavery on the District of Columbia. In addition, visitors will have an opportunity to review materials from our collection.Register-Now

 

DC Statehood, Gentrification and Race
2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

vote-buttonA discussion of the history of the interplay between race and gentrification, panelists will address the topical relevance between D.C. Statehood movement and D.C. Emancipation and the ongoing struggle to expand citizenship to include the descendants of enslaved African Americans in the District of Columbia. Panelists will use their expertise and specific knowledge to discuss similar Statehood movements in the U.S. (specifically Hawaii and Alaska) where race played a major role; they will also examine the role of race with the more recent Statehood movement in the District and the dynamics of race and class in the history of the D.C. Statehood movement.

Parisa Norouzi is the executive director of Empower DC, which is an activist grass roots organization with a mission to educate local residents about how to use their rights to influence and improve public policy in the areas of housing and public property.  Ms. Norouzi will address gentrification. Samuel Jordan is the executive director of CareFirst, a health care organization.  A protégé of D.C. Statehood Party founders  Julius Hobson and Josephine Butler, Mr. Jordan was the last president of the D.C. Statehood Party and an expert on the history of race in Hawaii and Alaska Statehood, gentrification and class in D.C. Senator Michael Brown (D-DC),  is a 2nd term non-voting Senator elected city-wide to represent D.C. residents on Capitol Hill. Senator Brown actively lobbies Congress for statehood for D.C.  His knowledge is in the history of enslavement in D.C. through the Statehood movement. Barry Lenoir is the executive director of the United Black Fund, an organization founded in 1950 by civic leaders Calvin and Wilhemina Rolark to improve the lives of predominantly African Americans in Ward 8 and now citywide.  Mr. Lenoir is an expert on Barry Farms, land granted specifically to newly released enslaved in SE Washington, D.C. Anise Jenkins (moderator) is the executive director of Stand Up! for Democracy in D.C. (FreeDC).Register-Now


April 16

Collections Open House
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
HSW_20150221_MadamOnTheMall_009Join the Historical Society as we celebrate and honor D.C. Emancipation Day on Friday April 15th and Saturday April 16th with an Open House. Visit the Kiplinger Research Library at the Carnegie Library to learn about collections related to slavery and Emancipation, including: petitions for freedom, pamphlets, photographs, lithographs, and jail records. Staff members from the Historical Society will guide visitors through the impact of slavery on the District of Columbia. In addition, visitors will have an opportunity to review materials from our collection.Register-Now