By Andrew DelGiudice
Back in 1862, President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, therefore freeing 3,100 enslaved District residents. Notice the ‘Compensated’ aspect of that Act? This meant that DC was the only emancipation of enslaved peoples where the owners (so weird to say ‘owners’) were paid to free their slaves.
DC Emancipation Day’s biggest champion and advocate, At-Large DC Councilmember Vincent Orange, made sure to emphasize this fact often throughout his heartfelt addresses to the audience along with impassioned pleas to ramp up attendance and participation in future Emancipation Day festivities. Funding for this and previous Emancipation Days has had a bit of a shaky past, but it remains to be seen whether these pleas for more participation are warranted since the responsibilities of planning and funding all DC Emancipation Day events will be transferred from the DC Council to Mayor’s Office. I can’t imagine any new mayor, female or male, cancelling this event during their first year in office.