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Emancipation Day in D.C. and Across the Globe

National Journal

Emancipation Day, or the celebration of the abolition of slavery, is celebrated in different states and countries on various days. Washington D.C. celebrates April 16, the anniversary of the day in 1862 when President Lincoln freed 3,100 people in that city nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation. Here are the dates of emancipation celebrations across the country and the world.

  • Puerto Rico-- March 22 is Puerto Rico's official Emancipation Day holiday.
  • Mississippi-- This state celebrates on May 8, also known as "Eight o' May."
  • Florida-- The holiday is May 20, the day the Emancipation Proclamation was read in the state in 1865. 
  • Texas-- June 19, commonly known as "Juneteenth," commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery there in 1865.
  • U.S. Virgin Islands-- July 3 is the official Emancipation Day, commemorating the day that Gov. Peter Von Scholten abolished slavery in 1848.
  • Kentucky-- August 8 marks the day that Kentucky's slaves learned of their freedom.
  • Canada-- Ontario celebrates its Emancipation Day on the first Monday in August, commemorating the abolition of slavery in Upper Canada in 1810. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 officially ended slavery in the British Empire and thus the rest of Canada.
  • Barbados-- The "Season of Emancipation" is April 14 to August 23.
  • Bermuda-- Bermuda usually celebrates on August 2 with the first day of "Cupmatch," a cricket competition.
  • The Bahamas-- Celebrations are primarily held in a former slave village in Nassau, where residents apparently heard about their freedom a week later than everyone else on the island.
  • In many other countries, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla, Emancipation Day celebrations take place during Carnival.
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