- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Emancipation Day parade through downtown tomorrow will close sections of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest for most of the day as hundreds are expected to celebrate the 144th anniversary of the end of slavery in the District.

The parade, more than 100 years old, is a celebration of President Abraham Lincoln’s freeing 3,100 blacks in the District in 1862 — nearly nine months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Metropolitan Police Department will close Pennsylvania Avenue and intersecting streets at 10 a.m., then reopen them as the parade passes through the city.

After the parade, organizers have planned a daylong schedule of programs that will include speeches by city officials, performances by high school bands and community groups at Freedom Square. Pennsylvania Avenue will remain closed from 12th to 14th streets Northwest from about 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow to accommodate the programs on the square.

A celebratory concert is planned for this morning at All Souls Church in Northwest and concludes a week of events that began April 9 with a poetry reading at the Busboys and Poets bookstore-cafe in Northwest.

The annual wreath-laying ceremony was conducted yesterday at the Emancipation Statue in Lincoln Park.

During the program tomorrow, civil rights icon Dorothy I. Height, the chairwoman emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women, will receive a lifetime achievement award for more than 70 years of service in the struggle to overcome racial discrimination and social injustice.

The celebration will conclude with a concert scheduled to include gospel singers Vickie Winans and Yolanda Adams, followed by a fireworks show.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams signed in January of last year legislation to make April 16 an official holiday in the District. When he signed the bill, Mr. Williams, a Democrat, called the day “a permanent part of the District’s civic culture.” Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat and mayoral candidate, introduced the bill.

Lincoln signed the proclamation for the District on April 16, 1862. The federal government gave owners $300 for each person who was freed.

In 1863, Lincoln declared all slaves freed in the states involved in the Civil War. Slavery was abolished in all states when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1865.

The first Emancipation Day parade in the District was held after the Civil War ended, continuing annually until 1901, when organizers disagreed about the parade’s logistics. The parade was revived in 2002, excluding 2003 because of the war in Iraq.

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