Emancipation Day Celebration History
The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834. Emancipation Day is widely observed in the British West Indies during the first week of August. In many Caribbean countries the Emancipation Day celebration is a part of Carnival, as the Caribbean Carnival takes place at this time.
- Barbados: The celebration includes various events held at Emancipation Roundabout in St. Michael. This parish is the site of a statue honoring Bussa, the leader of the slave revolt at Bayley's Plantation.
- Bermuda: Celebration usually occurs on August 2, despite August 1 being the national holiday. On the island the holiday is better known as the first day of "Cupmatch", an annual two–day cricket competition between the St. George's and Somerset cricket clubs.
- Trinidad and Tobago was the first country in the world to declare a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery.
First Monday in August
- Some countries observe the holiday as August Monday.
- Anguilla: In addition to commemorating emancipation, it is the first day of "August Week", the Anguillian Carnival celebrations. J'ouvert is celebrated on this morning, as Carnival commences.
- The Bahamas: Celebrations are mainly concentrated in Fox Hill Village, Nassau, a former slave village whose inhabitants, according to folklore, heard about their freedom a week after everyone else on the island.
- British Virgin Islands: The first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of August are celebrated as "August Festival".
The Turks and Caicos Islands observe Emancipation Day on August 7.
The state of Florida observes emancipation in an unofficial commemoration on May 20. In the capital, Tallahassee, Civil War reenactors playing the part of Major General Edward McCook and other union soldiers act out the speech General McCook gave from the steps of the Knott House on May 20, 1865. This was the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Florida.
The municipality of Washington, D.C., celebrates April 16 as Emancipation Day. On that day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia. The Act freed about 3,100 enslaved persons in the District of Columbia nine months before President Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation. The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act represents the only example of compensation by the federal government to former owners of emancipated slaves.
On January 4, 2005, Mayor Anthony Williams signed legislation making Emancipation Day an official public holiday in the District. Each year, a series of activities will be held during the public holiday including the traditional Emancipation Day parade celebrating the freedom of enslaved persons in the District of Columbia. The Emancipation Day celebration was held yearly from 1866 to 1901, and was 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.
In 2007, the observance of this holiday in Washington, D.C. had the effect of nationally extending the 2006 income tax filing deadline from April 16 to April 17, a delay that will recur in April 2012. The 2007 date change was not discovered until after many forms went to print.
In Texas, Emancipation Day is celebrated on June 19. It commemorates the announcement in Texas of the abolition of slavery made on that day in 1865. It is commonly known as Juneteenth.
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico celebrates Emancipation Day, an official holiday, on March 22.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The United States Virgin Islands celebrates Emancipation Day, an official holiday, on July 3. It commemorates the abolition of slavery by Danish Governor Peter von Scholten on July 3, 1848.
Emancipation Day is observed in Tonga every June 4 to commemorate the official abolition of serfdom everywhere in Tonga by King George Tupou I in 1862.
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