Emancipation Proclamation Reading at Old Florida Capitol

Updated -- May 20, 2011

It's a celebration of community, history, and freedom.

"I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free."

On May 20, 1865, Brigadier General Edward McCook stood on the front steps of the Knott House at the corner of Park Avenue and Calhoun Street in Tallahassee and read the Emancipation Proclamation.

146 years later in that same spot, Brian Bibeau re-enacts the reading of the executive order signed by President Abraham Lincoln that proclaimed the freedom of slaves.

Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but, it took two years for the news to make it to Tallahassee; and a celebration of the momentous announcement continues today.

Teri Carson travelled from Connecticut to participate in Emancipation Day. She said, "The City of Tallahassee does an excellent job at offering various programs. We're impressed. We really are. We travelled from Connecticut."

Before witnessing the proclamation re-enactment, school children and community members placed a flower at the head stone of African American Union Soldiers at the Old City Cemetary.

Civil War Reenactor Margeret Smart said, "It speaks for the lives that have gone on before. Had they not gone through that, we would not be where we are today."

Ten-year-olds Ivan Tucker and Braidan O'Conner say emancipation day is what allows them to stand side-by-side.

Braidan said, "I'm happy because I can hang out with my friends and stuff."

Other Emancipation Day activities included a tour of African American historical sites in Tallahassee and the Museum Exhibit opening of "From Slavery to Freedom" at the Riley House.

On Saturday, May 21st, there will be activities at Walker-Ford Community Center.

Also, there will be a celebration at the Henry Hill Park on Centerville Road starting at 2pm.

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Tallahassee, Florida - May 20, 2011 -

The community has come together to remember the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a reenactment of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation as read in Tallahassee on May 20, 1865.

It was a day that slaves had dreamed of for many years.

We were live at the capitol.

See the video for the full story.

Be sure to check back for more later this evening on Eyewitness News.


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