D.C. Emancipation Day 2012: Schedule For Parade, Street Festival, Discussions

Slaves In D.C. Set Free 150 Years Ago Today

WASHINGTON -- This year, the rest of the nation may know Emancipation Day as that day that gives you a little bit more breathing room to file your tax returns, but many District of Columbia residents know better.

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln -- nearly nine months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation that liberated slaves in rebellious states -- freed those living in slavery within the boundaries of the nation's capital.

One hundred and fifty years later, the D.C. government will mark Emancipation Day by giving city employees and public school students the day off.

There are a handful of Emancipation Day events set for today.

First off is a new smartphone-based commemorative scavenger hunt from Cultural Tourism DC. After competitors download an app and follow specific instructions designed for the festivities, the top 30 participants will win prizes.

The Emancipation Day parade, which starts at 3rd Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue around 11 a.m. ends at Freedom Plaza, where there will be a street festival for the remainder of the afternoon followed by fireworks after sundown.

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C will be holding an hour-long panel discussion starting at 11:30 a.m. exploring Lincoln's decision to end slavery and how D.C. residents impacted the abolition movement nationionally. Stay afterwards to peruse a multitude of documents including some from local church collections and the Kiplinger Washington Collection.

At the Capitol Visitor Center , Damini Davis, an archivist from the National Archives, will discuss the D.C. Emancipation Act at 1 p.m.

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