Tallahassee celebrates Florida Emancipation Day
Saturday, May 20 was Florida Emancipation Day, recalling the day in 1865 when all enslaved people in the state officially gained their freedom.
A highlight of Tallahassee's celebration took place at Park Avenue's Knott House, the site of the original event. It included an instrumental rendition of the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing" performed by the Tallahassee Symphony strings,
Then John Anderson, portraying abolitionist Frederick Douglass, gave one of the famed abolitionist's stirring speeches.
"Restore our glorious union! Abolish this wretched institution of human slavery!" he exclaimed.
Finally, Tallahassee resident Brian Bibeau as Union General Edward McCook, sounded the institution's death knell in Florida as he read the Emancipation Proclamation from the very spot it had first had a public revelation in Florida 158 years earlier.
"By order of President Lincoln, the Negroes are no longer held in bondage."
Sergeant Major Jarvis Rosier with the Colored Troops Education Project has been part of the re-enactments honor guard for many years.
"And it makes me want to come back and do it again and again. Especially during our time now when a lot of our history is being whitewashed," he remarked, as the sounds of drums announcing the long-awaited day of freedom reverberated in the park.
Saturday's ceremony was just one of several local Emancipation Day events.