Gainesville, FL—The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) in conjunction with the Cone Park Library will be hosting a special Emancipation Day program at the Cone Park Library on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 from 2:30-4:00 pm. The program is designed for children ages K-6 but is open to all.
During the program, attendees will learn the history of Emancipation Day in Florida and various Emancipation Day celebrations throughout Florida, including the wrapping of the maypole. Program attendees will craft two miniature maypoles of their own, one of which will be included in an upcoming Emancipation Day/ Juneteenth exhibit at the Cone Park Library. The program will conclude with a mini-parade on the Cone Park Library lawn to commemorate Emancipation Day. Light refreshments will be provided.
Whereas the Juneteenth holiday commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves in Galveston, Texas in 1865, and is perhaps the most widely recognized celebration of the end of slavery, Emancipation Day commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves in Florida. Despite the fact that Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, similar to slaves in Texas, slaves in Florida did not find out that slavery has been abolished for almost another two and half years. On May 20, 1865, eleven days after the Civil War ended, Union General Edward M. McCook stood on the steps of what is now the Knott House in Tallahassee and read the Emancipation Proclamation. From then on, Floridians across the state have the commemorated that historic moment annually on May 20th with traditions that include barbecues, parades, days off from work, wrapping of the maypole and dramatic readings of the Emancipation Proclamation and other speeches and poems. The Emancipation Day program at Cone Park Library seeks to both commemorate and continue the rich tradition of Emancipation Day celebrations in Florida.
This event is sponsored by the Programs in the Public Humanities Grant from the Center for Humanities and the Public Sphere with support from the Rothman Endowment, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, the Alachua County African American History Project, the Alachua County Library District and the Cone Park Library Resource Center/Partnership for Strong Families.
For more information on the Emancipation Day program at Cone Park Library, please contact Randi Gill-Sadler , Graduate Coordinator for the Alachua County African American History Project or Cherie Kelly, Resource Center Manager for the Cone Park Library Resource Center by phone at (352) 334-0456.
Image from “Plaiting of the Maypole,” September 18, 2014, The Weekly Challenger.