Escape From Slavery
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, community leader David W. Smith Sr. will discuss slave culture in the United States, Civil War interpreter Marquett Milton will portray the life of United States Colored Troop Andrew Green and freelance writer Omarr Lee will pay tribute to the commemorative holiday through poetry.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is considered the oldest celebration that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.
On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas with 2,000 troops. He issued General Order 3, which declared an end to slavery more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Because of Texas’s isolation and the slow movement of news about the Civil War, many slaves were unaware of the Emancipation degree of Jan. 1, 1863.
In later years, the commemoration, coined from “June” and “nineteenth”, expanded to other southern states. The commemoration extended to northern and western states during the Great Migration (1915-1960s) when nearly 5 million southern blacks moved north and headed west. To date, Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
David W. Smith Sr., a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, serves as Executive Director of the Pearl Coalition. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to fostering an understanding of slavery, as illustrated in the case of the schooner, Pearl, when 77 slaves on April 15, 1848 attempted a daring escape from the nation’s capital by sea.
Marquett Milton, a native Washingtonian, is a full-time re-enactor with the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum. At historic events, he tells the stories of black soldiers who fought for freedom in the War Between the States.
Omarr Lee received his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Bowie State University. In 2011, he wrote the poem “A Day of Pride” in recognition of Juneteenth.
Join us on Thursday, June 18 beginning at 5 p.m. for a celebration of the abolition of slavery in the United States.