Historian C.R. Gibbs will deliver a lecture on the history of emancipation in the nation’s capital and the role of D.C.’s colored regiment during the Civil War at 2 p.m on Saturday, April 14 at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, 1411 W Street S.E.
The program will include an invocation from the Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church, and a preview of a DVD, “Black, Copper & Bright,” about the First Regiment of United States Colored Troops (the 1st USCT) District’s Black Civil War Regiment, as well as a discussion to establish a marker on Theodore Roosevelt Island to honor Sgt. Charles (Ben) Hawley, who served in B Company of the U.S. Colored Troops, as well as efforts to honor abolitionist Harriet Tubman and Mary Ann Shadd Cary, a writer, educator, lawyer, abolitionist and the first Black female newspaper publisher in North America.
The Washington D.C. Emancipation Commemoration Lecture Program is sponsored by the National Park Service in collaboration with the office of D.C. Council member Vincent Orange in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of D.C. Emancipation Day.
The Compensated Emancipation Act was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on April 16, 1862. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed nine months later. The D.C. act freed more than 3,000 slaves in Washington and provided up to $300 per slave in compensation to owners and offered $100 to every freed slave who moved to another country. In the late 1800s, the anniversary of the D.C. emancipation act was a day of celebration with parades and other festivities. Over time, the number and size of celebrations shrank, but it became an official city holiday in 2005.