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City of Tallahassee kicks off Florida's Emancipation Day events

Posted at 12:25 PM, May 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-13 12:25:29-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — To honor Florida's Emancipation Day on May 20, the city of Tallahassee has several free events taking place for local residents to commemorate, beginning Saturday.

Presented by the Knott House Museum and the City's John G. Riley Center/Museum, the free events include:

  • Saturday, May 13: "Walk Through Living History" from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Speed-Spencer-Stephens Park, located at 1907 Saxon Street.
    • A family-friendly event that consists of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in the state of Florida.
  • Thursday, May 18: Watching for Freedom 2023 at 2:30 p.m. 12 Culture Keeper Honorees will be recognized for their leadership and advocacy which has been sustained, preserved and validated in Florida's emancipation history and culture in North Florida, according to the city.
    • Will be held at Parkview at Cascades, located at 414 E. Bloxham Street.
  • Friday, May 19: From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Freedom's Eve Emancipation Concert will be held at The Adderley Amphitheater in Cascades Park, located at 1001 S. Gadsden Street.
    • This is a three-part performance, featuring music by Tallahassee Nights Live, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, and the Tallahassee Symphony Jazz Orchestra.
  • Saturday, May 20
    • 9 a.m. - In Tallahassee, church bells will ring for two minutes to celebrate Florida's Emancipation Day.
    • 10 a.m. - John G. Riley Center/Museum Civil War Commemorative Service will be held at Old City Cemetary, located at 400 W. Park Ave. Local school kids and the community will decorate the graves of Black Civil War soldiers.
    • 11 a.m. - Dramatic reading of the Emancipation Proclamation will take place on the steps of the Knott House Museum, located at 301 E. Park Avenue. Free lunch and activities will be provided across the street in Lewis Park.

According to the city, the Emancipation Proclamation was first read on the steps of the Knott House by General Edward McCook on May 20, 1865. That time period was when the enslaved in Florida learned they were free, two years after the document was issued by President Abraham Lincoln, the City says.

For more information regarding events, call the City's John G. Riley Center/Museum at 850-891-3560 or click here.