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Drive-Through History Event Sets Stage For Florida Emancipation Day Celebration

Woman with stroller and small child walk past men dressed in Civil War Era garb
Tom Flanigan
Walk-by as well as drive-by visitors were welcome as members of the 2nd Infantry Regiment U.S. Colored Troops explained the function of their camp gear.

Historical reenactors gave visitors a glimpse of life in the time leading up to the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Tallahassee on May 20, 1865.

Florida's Season of Emancipation is officially underway. It began with a drive-thru history event on Saturday, May 8 at Tallahassee's Speed-Spencer-Stephens Park.

A fife and drum duo provided an authentic 1860s soundtrack. Members of the Second Infantry Regiment U.S. Colored Troops had a small demonstration encampment set up. Sgt. Major Jarvis Rosier said this was in the run-up to Emancipation Day itself.

"On the 20th, that morning at 9:30 we'll be at the Old City Cemetery where we'll memorialize those soldiers that are there. Over 31 graves that we'll memorialize."

From there, it's a short march to the spot where all of Florida's enslaved people were officially released from bondage.

"Then we head over to the Knott House where the Emancipation Proclamation was read by General McCook when he came into town."

Which sparked a mass celebration during which the Confederate flag was lowered in front of Florida's Capitol and the flag of the United States raised in its place.