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Tallahassee City Commission Designates Emancipation Day As Paid Holiday

City Commissioners sit at their tables and look toward a speaker at the podium.
City of Tallahassee
Tallahassee is following Leon county’s lead in making May 20 a paid holiday for local government employees. Nationwide, June 19, or Juneteenth, is typically recognized as Emancipation Day. But in Tallahassee, the emancipation proclamation was read on May 20, 1865.

The Tallahassee City Commission is recognizing May 20 as Emancipation Day in Florida. While June 19 is nationally recognized as Emancipation Day, slaves in Tallahassee got word of their freedom much sooner. On May 20, Union soldiers rode into the city. General Edward McCook read the emancipation proclamation on the steps of the Knott House. Brian Bibeau portrayed General McCook during Tuesday's city commission meeting, where he read aloud the emancipation proclamation.

"I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated states and parts of states are and henceforward shall be free," Bibeau says.

Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Williams-Cox says Tallahassee has a history of celebrating May 20 as Emancipation Day.

The board approved May 20 as a paid holiday for city employees. The Leon County Commission previously approved the holiday for county employees.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.