DC Emancipation Day Celebration Returns to the Nation's Capital

4/3/2014, 3:36 p.m.
The District of Columbia and CENTRIC, a BET Network, are gearing up for the third annual DC Emancipation Day celebration ...
The Anacostia High School Marching Band has performed in previous D.C. Emancipation Day parades. (Courtesy photo)

The District of Columbia and CENTRIC, a BET Network, are gearing up for the third annual DC Emancipation Day celebration with kick-off activities beginning April 13 and multiple day-of festivities on Wednesday, April 16. This year’s celebration marks the 152nd anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, which made the nation’s capital the first to end slavery. Through this legislation, and the courage and struggles of those who fought to see the bill turned into law; the District of Columbia has commemorated every April 16 as DC Emancipation Day.

The week starts with the Emancipation Day Panel; a celebrity town hall-style discussion held at Lincoln Theatre and free to the public on Sunday, April 13 at 6 p.m. On Wednesday, April 16, DC Emancipation Day celebrations begin at 11 a.m. with a festive parade boasting more than 40 participating groups, including numerous DC high school and college marching bands, the U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corp and Color Guard, The 54th Voluntary Infantry Regiment, the UniverSOUL Circus and much more. The festivities continue with an Open House at the legislative headquarters of the DC Government, the John A. Wilson Building. Creative Educational Seminars and Workshops will be held at the Open House from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The official DC Emancipation Day Concert, “Message in the Music,” will begin at 4 p.m. at Freedom Plaza and feature Talib Kweli, Raheem DeVaughn, Arrested Development, MC Lyte, and many more artists. The full day of celebrations will end with an impressive Fireworks Finale over Freedom Plaza, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Details of Emancipation Day events are outlined below, as well as at www.emancipationdc.com. All Emancipation Day DC events are free and open to the public.


  1. The Emancipation Day Panel; Celebrity Town Hall Discussion

The Lincoln Theatre- Sunday, April 13, 6 p.m.

CENTRIC, a BET Network, The Office of Cable Television, the office of DC City Councilmember Vincent Orange Sr. and Howard University’s WHUT partner to present The Emancipation Day Panel, a town hall-style discussion focused on important topics affecting youth and the African American community. Topics include: education, employment, closures of hospitals and healthcare facilities, anti-violence, prison reform and other emerging social issues. Moderated by TV host, reporter, and producer Robyn Murphy, the event's panelists will include: actress and recording artist Toni Blackman; hip hop artist MC Hammer; Public Enemy’s Chuck D; President of Russell Simmon’s GlobalGrind.com, and social and political correspondent Michael Skolnik; and recording artist and founder of the Ladies First Women’s Empowerment Organization, Monie Love. The town hall will air as a one-hour television special, complimented with highlights from all official DC Emancipation Day celebrations, for future broadcast on CENTRIC and WHUT.

  1. DC Emancipation Day Parade

Pennsylvania Avenue- Wednesday April 16, 11 a.m.

The DC Emancipation Day parade celebrates the historical significance and freedom of enslaved persons in the District of Columbia. The robust, citywide parade will begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 16 and take place on Pennsylvania Avenue, beginning on 4th Street NW and ending at Freedom Plaza, before 14th Street NW. Parade participants will include numerous DCPS and College marching bands, dancers, all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, children’s characters and large balloon floats, auto clubs, numerous neighborhood and community associations, DC Statehood organizations, and much more.