If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else — Booker T. Washington

For those of you that  like to do  the last minute filing of your taxes, make a note: The due date for 2010 individual federal income tax returns is Monday, April 18, 2011.  That’s the date your form has to be either submitted electronically or postmarked by for your tax return to be considered timely filed by the IRS. Really.

In Washington, D.C., IRS offices will be closed to celebrate Emancipation Day (usually April 16, but this year observed on April 15). In 2005, Emancipation Day was made an official public holiday in the District of Columbia. In all other areas of the United States, April 16 is just a normal day and public life is not affected.

What is Emancipation Day? It’s the anniversary of the day President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act which was “for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia.”  In other words, it freed 3,100 slaves in the District of Columbia only, making DC residents the “first freed” by the federal government.

What do people do on Emancipation Day?
A wide range of events are arranged in Washington DC to mark Emancipation Day. These are spread throughout the month of April and include exhibitions, public discussions, presentations of historic documents, the laying of wreaths, concerts and poetry readings. The events aim to educate a broad spectrum of people about the history of the municipality of the District of Columbia in general and slavery in particular. Attention is also paid to the African origin of many slaves and racial issues in modern American society.

Background
Formal slavery was legal from 1619 until 1865 in the area that is now the United States. By 1860, there were about four million slaves in the United States. On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln, signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed more than 3000 slaves in the District of Columbia. However, slavery did not officially end in the rest of the United States until after the American Civil War, in 1865.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution formally ended slavery in the US. It was proposed on January 31, 1865, and ratified by 30 of the then 36 states in the same year. The Emancipation Day celebration was held yearly from 1866 to 1901, and resumed as a tradition and historic celebration in 2002 as a direct result of years of research, lobbying and leadership done by Ms. Loretta Carter-Hanes

On January 4, 2005, Mayor Anthony Williams signed legislation making Emancipation Day an official public holiday in the District.  Elsewhere in the United States, the emancipation of slaves is celebrated in Florida (May 20), Puerto Rico (March 22) and Texas (June 19, Juneteenth). There are also similar events in many countries in the Caribbean, including Anguilla, Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Many of these events occur during the first week of August as slavery was abolished in the British Empire on August 1, 1834.

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Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 8:08 AM  Leave a Comment  
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