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DC Emancipation Day

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A Letter from Councilmember Vincent Orange

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Very warm greetings to all assembled today, in Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, for an extremely beautiful day to rejoice in and observe the 154th Anniversary of the District of Columbia’s Emancipation Day celebration.

It is noteworthy and significant that the Federal Government has recognized D.C. Emancipation Day as a federal holiday for tax-filing purposes. The Washington Post reported “[t]his year, the holiday, which shuts down city government, will be celebrated April 15, also known as Tax Day. And because of the conjunction, the entire country gets a three-day reprieve on filing 2015 tax returns, making the official tax filing deadline Monday, April 18”.

Happy Emancipation Day America!

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipated Act which authorized the United States government to pay one million dollars to slave owners to release 3,100 persons from bondage. Thereafter, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 which freed slaves in the states that seceded from the Union, although word of freedom to the enslaved was not communicated to all until June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas.

The 154th Anniversary of the D.C. Emancipation Day program has transitioned from the legislative branch of the District government to the executive branch as we continue to preserve this holiday. Congratulations to the Honorable Muriel Bowser, Mayor of the District of Columbia, for making the transition seamless and successful. As the author of the legislation that created this public holiday, I’m confident that its future is secure in the executive office of the Mayor.

In closing, there are so many people to thank, known and unknown, who gave their lives, blood, sweat and tears for humankind to make it to this 154th Anniversary. Life, liberty and death coupled with the pursuit of happiness along with a legal recognition, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America, that “all men are created equal” has come at great cost but as history has recorded shall not be denied regardless of the severe cost incurred. Many of us share a firm belief that “we shall overcome, someday” which affords us the opportunity to march on until victory is won.

For me, it is a joy being a child of God and enjoying the land of the living at a time such as this. Thank you for allowing me to be a public servant.

Very truly yours,