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Emancipation Day celebrations marks 159 years, bridges gap between generations

Several events were held Monday to celebrate the freeing of enslaved Black people in Florida
Emancipation Day celebrations marks 159 years, bridges gap between generations
Posted at 7:00 PM, May 20, 2024
  • Emancipation Day celebrations rang around downtown Tallahassee Monday.
  • Several events included kids participating, helping to bridge the gap between generations and keep the celebrations going.
  • Watch now to hear from one neighbor who describes why its so important for younger generations to be involved in Emancipation Day now.


Celebrating Black freedom across the state of Florida.

I’m Alberto Camargo in the downtown Tallahassee neighborhood.

On these steps of the Knott House, the Emancipation Proclamation was first read to the people of Tallahassee 159 years ago.

Monday, Emancipation Day was celebrated yet again.

I’m asking neighbors why this day meant — and continues to mean so much.

On this day in 1865, Floridians heard the news "that all persons held as slaves within said designated states and parts of states are and henceforth shall be free.”

On this day in 2024 — 159 years later — emancipation was celebrated again.

I spoke with a couple of neighbors who put the importance of Emancipation Day into perspective.

“We’ve been doing it all my life, to commemorate the freedom of the African-American people.”

Danny Sylvester says he’s proud to see children at Emancipation Day events, because it’ll be up to them to keep the celebrations going.

“It’s important that the kids know about that history and continue to commemorate those days so it won’t be forgotten because it’s a very important time in our history.”

The kids participated by decorating the graves of Black Civil War soldiers at the Old City Cemetery.

Those soldiers were also honored by a 21-gun salute.

“This is the day that marked our inclusion in the American experiment.”

That’s Florida A&M University provost professor Dr. Reginald Ellis.

I asked him how it feels to see hundreds of neighbors — from all backgrounds — celebrating Black freedom.

“That’s what democracy, this is what democracy looks like, the fact that everyone is taking a pause to celebrate this concept of independence and emancipation.”

Dr. Ellis says the celebration of freedom continues with the Juneteenth Empowerment Day Festival on June 15 and through the Fourth of July.

In downtown Tallahassee, AC, ABC27.