Mr. Smith heads the non-profit organization, Pearl Coalition. The purpose of the organization is to educate the public about the “peculiar institution” and how slaves and free people of color took matters into their own hands in terms of challenging human bondage. One major DC historic event involved the Pearl Incident in 1848, when 77 slaves attempted a daring escape from the nation’s capital by sea on the “Pearl” schooner.
What is Emancipation Day?
The DC Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862 ended slavery in Washington, DC, freed 3,100 individuals, reimbursed those who had legally owned them and offered the newly freed women and men money to emigrate. It is this legislation, and the courage and struggle of those who fought to make it a reality, that we commemorate every April 16, DC Emancipation Day.