Local leaders and with national civil rights activists are marking a weeklong celebration of the 150th anniversary of Emancipation Day, the congressional act that freed the slaves in D.C.
In the Emancipation Day Parade on Monday, April 16, 3,100 participants will represent each of the 3,100 slaves freed on April 16, 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act.
Lincoln signed the act to free D.C.’s slaves nine months before his famous Emancipation Proclamation.
Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Rev. Joel Osteen, and civil rights activist Dick Gregory are scheduled to march in Monday's parade, which runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. down Pennsylvania Avenue MW, between 3rd and 7th streets.
A street festival and free concert at Freedom Plaza will take place at Freedom Plaza (E Street NW between 13th and 14th), with Jackson serving as keynote speaker at 2:30 p.m. A free concert afterward will feature jazz saxophonist Brian Lenair at 4 p.m., Familiar Faces at 5 p.m., Harold Melvin's Blue Notes at 6 p.m., and Jean Carne at 7 p.m.
The day ends with fireworks at 8:30 p.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 12th and 13th streets.
Drivers, be warned that Pennsylvania Avenue and surrounding streets between 3rd and 14th streets will be closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fireworks display will close 12th Street between E Street and Constitution Avenue from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The week of events kicked off last Wednesday with a “March through the Monuments,” when Mayor Vincent Gray, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Rev. Al Sharpton walked from the Lincoln Memorial to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Emancipation Day was celebrated throughout the 1800s, but wasn’t made an official holiday locally until 2002.