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.


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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  • by Go Navy on May 21, 2011 at 03:40 PM
    Bill Procotor is my god. He's lots smarter than Dave who struggled to get released from the fourth grade. The only thing he could do to enhance his credibility is to spend a month with a dentist.
  • by Jim Location: Gadsden County on May 21, 2011 at 10:11 AM
    If this was a reenactment of an enactment why was it not given at the Knott House to be historically correct. (Calhoun & Park). However if you wanted to give a stage performance you would give it in front of the Old Capitol. (Monroe). Something is lost when you attempt to give a stage performance and not the historically correct version. One would wonder about the reason for this. Not enough attention? For educational purposes? If for educational reasons the truth about the issuance and effectiveness of the proclamation would be taught. Lincoln had his own selfish reasons.
  • by Freedom Location: Tallahassee on May 21, 2011 at 05:59 AM
    146 years is long enough to elevate yourself. European immigrants did it it less than two generations. If you have a victim mentality, 10,000 years will not improve you circumstance.
  • by off course on May 20, 2011 at 06:12 PM
    Dont 'these' people know they are free, do they have to remind themselves year after year, ad nausem
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 23, 2011 at 08:30 AM in reply to off course
      I don't recall seeing this kind of reaction to cinco de mayo, 4th of July or any other type day. We can observe this day as long as we want. You all should learn something about history and join us in the celebration! You all exclude yourselves then critize others.
  • by Dave Location: So. Ga. on May 20, 2011 at 06:02 PM
    To all that read this article and the posts that followed. Study the time line of the civil war. The war was not started because of slavery. April 12, 1861---War starts in Charleston. Emanciapation proclamation----1863 2years LATER.Lincoln was NOT the president of the Confederate States and had no power to declare freedom. Proclamation ONLY freed states that were in rebellion. Did NOT free slaves in the NORTH. Lousiana was a southern state....but N.Orleans was under yankee control so it was exmepted. When the EP was issued the Union volunteers for the ARMY dropped to ZERO and the DRAFT was instituted causing riots in New York city. You could PAY someone to be drafted in your stead. Yup, it really freed a lot of people, but NOT in the NORTH!!. Read your history lessons...not the ones being taught by liberal teachers in todays classes. Get a school text book from the early 1900's.
    • reply
      by Go Navy on May 21, 2011 at 04:20 AM in reply to Dave
      Yet another dunce who hasn't taken the time to read the secession resolutions of the several states (including Florida) that seceded from the Union. Your goofy theory is at odds with the reason contemporanelously articulated by the people who tried to secede from the Union. And were beat down like dogs for trying. HAHAHAHAHA!
      • reply
        by Jim on May 21, 2011 at 03:17 PM in reply to Go Navy
        A very shallow response. It sounds like the spoonfed history of the politically correct. The secession of the southern states was much more complicated than your posting. Start your study with slavery and the forming of this country. Check the tension (reasons) that developed between the northern and southern regions that started many years prior to the war, The interference with slavery was a great concern by the slaveholders in states and district of columbia. This country allowed and classed slaves as personal property. The country allowed slavery to become part of the economic lifeblood of the southern region. You better believe that slavery was mentioned in secession resolutions. However distasteful this might seem to us today. You are talking about personal property involving 3,500,000 slaves. Market price 5,803,000,000. Would you be concerned about your investment. This personal property classification was a product of this country not just the southern region. What a shallow response. When you use terms like "dunce""goofy" are you still trying to beat someone down like a dog. I think the laughs on you. Semper Fi.
  • by Yankee on May 20, 2011 at 03:11 PM
    War's over. You lost. Move on.
    • reply
      by Jim on May 20, 2011 at 06:42 PM in reply to Yankee
      Yes we lost to the hoades of northern invaders. Yes we submitted at the point of a bayonet. But we all pay the price everyday for a strong central federal government. A government which is out of control, corrupt, unmanageable, and nearing bankruptcy. A country that is govern by the Commerce and General Welfare Clause. These clauses are made to fit anything the strong central federal govenment wishes to do. Yes we lost a fight we are still proud of today. Deo vindice.
  • by Kandi Location: Talla on May 20, 2011 at 02:50 PM
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on May 20, 2011 at 01:48 PM
    I wonder if Proctor was at this event? Did this help him understand that we are not in the Civil War anymore? The war is over Proctor!
    • reply
      by Kandi on May 20, 2011 at 02:48 PM in reply to Anonymous
      Really, could have fooled me!
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