Emancipation Day Celebrates African-American History and More
Despite concerns about public security after the Boston Marathon bombings, D.C.'s Emancipation Day parade and celebrations went off without a hitch April 16.
The parade moved along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, from 4th Street to 14th Street. There were also workshops and a battle of the bands at Freedom Plaza -- at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue across from the District Building -- as well as prayer breakfast. There was even a "Great Debate" at the Lincoln Theater on April 14 that looked at issues affecting African Americans today. The day's events were coordinated by Councilman-at-large Vincent Orange, who is the chair of the oversight committee for Emancipation Day.
“It’s the only time in history that the federal government paid $1 million in 1862 to free the slaves,” Orange told ABC News. “Clearly, that was part of Lincoln’s strategy to win civil war.”
The idea to alter the celebrations for the 151st anniversary of D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act, which officially abolished slavery in the nation’s capital in 1862, nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, was never considered.
On Monday evening, after the news of the Boston bombings, Mayor Vincent Gray issued a statement: “While at this time there is no information regarding any specific credible threat against targets in our region, we have plans in place to address these types of incidents. We are currently implementing those plans. While at this point I cannot go into significant detail about specific response actions and deployments, I can say that the District government is well-prepared to protect the safety of all those who live, visit and do business in the nation’s capital.”
Emancipation Day celebrations were capped with a fireworks display at Freedom Plaza. At 6:45 p.m., Friday, April 19, at 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, the Washington Ringing Society will perform a ringing of the Congress Bells in the Old Post Office Tower in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the dedication of these bells and to commemorate the 151st anniversary of D.C. Emancipation Day.