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Leon County hosts virtual Emancipation Day panel and performances

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:34 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - In 2020, Leon County was the first municipality in the state of Florida to officially declare May 20 Florida’s Emancipation Day, a county-wide holiday.

The County is partnering with Village Square and the Tallahassee Museum to host a Created Equal event, centered on Emancipation Day.

Royle King, the County’s Volunteer Services Manager, says this is the sixth year for the event, but it’s the first time it will center on emancipation, with the theme “Stretching Towards Freedom.”

King says it aligns with the historical relevance of African Americans being freed.

“We want to honor that history, and also celebrate it at the same time. And that’s why the County took the bold step of going ahead and making it a holiday, and this just so happened to be our lucky year of finally doing it the first time, but hopefully the first of many to come,” said King.

The event includes a live panel, featuring Althemese Barnes, Dr. Larry Rivers, and Dr. Paul Ortiz.

Participants can submit questions before the event, and moderators will monitor live comments during the panel.

“It may be intense at times, and a little uncomfortable, but we don’t grow when we stay stagnant,” said King. “So it’s important to honor the history and those foot soldiers who got us here, but also celebrate where we are today.”

King says one major goal this year is to shift the conversation to a broader scale, not only talking about Leon County, but the entire state. In addition to looking back over the last 156 years, part of the conversation will focus on improving present-day race relations.

Created Equal also includes pre-recorded performances by the Godby High School choir and Royce Lovett, as well as the Omega Lamplighters.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and is set to run for about an hour and a half. It will be streamed live on Leon County’s Facebook page.

You can pre-register here.

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