Charleston remembers Emancipation Proclamation in America’s oldest celebration
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Holy City was home Sunday to the 157th Emancipation Proclamation Parade and celebration, making it the oldest celebration in the nation.
The annual event celebrated the 160th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln and its announcement on Jan. 1, 1863, as the United States approached its third year of the Civil War. Charleston held its first parade honoring that day in 1886.
International African American Museum President and CEO Tonya Matthews said that Charleston is a city of tradition, and we should not take traditions for granted.
“The things that you don’t repeat, the things that you don’t pass down, are the things that we forget,” Matthews said. “These are the kinds of memories, stories and histories that we should be passing down to our children and to our neighbors.”
Members of the community gathered on streets throughout downtown Charleston to watch the parade and celebrate the important day. Charleston resident Theryn Robinson shares he attended the parade to remember the day slaves were freed.
“We all need to come together as one and be one and learn from one another’s cultures. It was great to see a lot of cultures out here,” Robinson said.
The proclamation intended to forever free all slaves in southern states and also announced the acceptance of Black men into the Union Army and Navy, a move the association said enabled “the liberated to become liberators.”
Children Aaliyah Wright and Caleb Keitt watched the parade and said they are happy to be free and celebrate God.
“It’s important to us because our ancestors were in slavery and we like to celebrate them being free and them having a good feeling,” Wright said.
After the parade, the community gathered in Gadsdenboro Park to hear from Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, members of the International African American Museum, and other local leaders in the community.
Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.