Commemoration of Emancipation by African Americans in North Carolina, 1865-1920

June 16, 2023


Before there was Juneteenth, there was Emancipation Day: January 1st, 1863, the day the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. The only public celebrations on the first Emancipation Day took place in Northern cities, where persons in flight from slavery gathered to watch for midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1862. With the coming of January 1st, the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect, and escaped slaves would be delivered from the threat of arrest and transportation to a slave state. The Proclamation stripped slave-owners in rebel states, at least, of the right to reclaim fugitives as stolen property.