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Mayor Bowser Announces 2016 Emancipation Day Festivities

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced plans to commemorate Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15 and Saturday, April 16. The Government of the District of Columbia will be closed on Friday, April 15. Emancipation Day honors President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act in 1862 – which freed 3,185 slaves in Washington, DC.

Mayor Bowser has proclaimed the theme for this year’s Emancipation Day as Championing Full Democracy for the residents of Washington, DC.

“As we celebrate Emancipation Day, we honor the many champions who have fought for equality and civil rights throughout our history,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Each year, we use this historic moment to renew our push for full democracy and statehood for the residents of the District of Columbia. We will not stop until we achieve full statehood.”

At-large Councilmember Vincent Orange, who has been instrumental in the coordination of Emancipation Day festivities, said:

“On behalf of the 680,000 residents in Washington, DC, we are honored to carry on the tradition of celebrating Emancipation Day. This tradition, through public events including lectures and discussions, helps to educate, inform, and engage today’s Washingtonians about our rich and important history.”

Mayor Bowser will kick off Emancipation Day events on Friday at the Full Democracy Champions Breakfast at The Willard Hotel with a panel of nationally recognized civil and voting rights experts to discuss how restrictions of voting rights impact civil rights. The panel will address an audience comprised of civil rights leaders, members of Congress, as well as leaders of the educational, legal, and business communities. The panel will be moderated by Elaine Jones, the first female NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund President and Director-Counsel. Panelists will include the Honorable James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the Honorable Terry A. Sewell (A.L.), the Honorable Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), and Wade Henderson, the Executive Director & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. 

On Saturday, April 16, Mayor Bowser and the DC Council will participate in the Emancipation Day Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. The parade will showcase champions of civil and voting rights, as well as school groups, to reflect upon the path from slavery to emancipation - with a vision toward full democracy for the residents of Washington, DC.

The day will end with a concert and fireworks display at Freedom Plaza. The Emancipation Day Concert acts include: April Sampe’, Black Alley, Be’la Dona, Raheem Devaughn, Rare Essence, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Trouble Funk. Bring your families – there will be a truck touch in front of the Wilson Building and food trucks on the north side of Freedom Plaza. This concert is free and open to the public.

To learn more about these events and events happening around the city, visit Click HERE to view the Emancipation Day promo video.

Full Democracy Champions Breakfast

WHEN: Friday, April 15 at 8 am
WHERE: The Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Press interested in attending should RSVP to [email protected].

Please note that this is a ticketed event.

Emancipation Day Parade

WHEN: Saturday, April 16 from 1 pm to 3 pm
WHERE: Parade route starts at 800 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW and ends at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

NOTE: Members of the public interested in marching with the Mayor and DC Council should register HERE, and are asked to meet at noon at Judiciary Square metro; in front of the District building at 441 4th Street, NW, in order to be ready to march at 1 pm.

Emancipation Day Truck Touch

WHEN: Saturday, April 16 at 1:30 pm
WHERE: 1300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Emancipation Day Concert

WHEN: Saturday, April 16; Concert begins at 2:45 pm, Fireworks start approximately at 9 pm after the concert
WHERE: Freedom Plaza, 1355 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW