County, State Leaders Declare Emancipation Day

Leaders in Montgomery County and the State of Maryland have declared Sunday, November 1 as Emancipation Day.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Sidney Katz, on behalf of the entire Council, presented a joint proclamation Friday proclaiming Sunday, Nov. 1, as “Emancipation Day” in Montgomery County:

“This is an important day in the history of our State that needs to be amplified so that more people are aware of as we continue our journey toward racial equity in Maryland,” said County Executive Elrich in a press release.  “While there is still much work ahead of us to correct the wrongs of the past, I am encouraged by the support from our community to seriously address racial injustice.  Emancipation Day is the perfect time for us to renew our commitment to making our County more equitable and inclusive.”

“On Nov. 1, 1864, Maryland legally freed all those held in bondage within its boundaries through a new state constitution,” said County Council President Katz.  “Sadly, more than a century and a half later, we still see the long shadow that slavery cast over our nation, the deep divides that it sowed and the injustices that it created. On Maryland Emancipation Day, we reflect on our history and recommit ourselves to dismantling institutional and systemic racism.  We know that much work lies ahead of us, but we stand united in our commitment to creating a more equitable Montgomery County.”

Today, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued a proclamation recognizing Maryland Emancipation Day:

156 years ago, a new state constitution abolished slavery in Maryland. I have issued a proclamation recognizing Maryland Emancipation Day as we reflect on the legacies of the brave Marylanders who risked everything so that they and others might enjoy the promise of freedom.

According to the county press release, Maryland started officially recognizing Emancipation Day in 2013, when then-Governor Martin O’Malley signed a measure to celebrate the freeing of slaves in Maryland on Nov. 1. Slavery was abolished in Maryland just six months before the end of the Civil War. Maryland’s slavery abolishment also was approved two months before the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment was passed by Congress, and a full year before the 13th Amendment was ratified.

The 13th Amendment partially reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

There are many activities and events in Montgomery County designed to educate residents about the history of slavery in Maryland and in the County. For more information, head to Visit Montgomery’s Emancipation Day Celebrations website.

“Maryland Flag” by Thad Zajdowicz is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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