Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day commemorating the freedom of African Americans from the bondages of slavery is celebrated at various times throughout the country. (In fact, Emancipation Day, commemorating the feedom of various formerly enslaved people, is celebrated throughout the world.) For instance, in Washington, D. C. emancipation is celebrated near the middle of April, because the District of Columbia slaves were freed in April of 1862, nine months before Lincoln's famous Emancipation Proclamation the following January. In one recent year, as you may recall, the IRS moved back the due date for filing one's income taxes because the normal due date (probably the 15th) fell on D.C.'s Emancipation Day. The states and regions of the U. S. South celebrate Emancipation Day at a various times, depending on when the slaves in that state or that area first learned of emancipation. In Texas and some other states or parts of states, for instance, the date is June 19, often called Juneteenth. In fact, I think that much of Missouri celebrates the anniversary of emancipation on Juneteenth.
In southwest Missouri, however, many communities still celebrate Emanciaption Day on the first weekend in August, since that is near the time slaves in this area first learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. I know that Joplin is one such community, and I'm sure there are others. The tradition of celebrating in early August has been going on continually (or very nearly so) as long as I've lived here and probably much farther back than that--all the way back to 1865.
But Joplin is not the only place that commemmorates Emancipation Day in southwest Mo. in August. At least, I know for sure that there were others that did so in the past. Golden City, for example, held a big Emancipation Day celebration on August 3 and 4, 1897. The evening of August 2, according to a brief piece in a Kansas City newspaper, was spent roasting and barbecuing beef and mutton so that there would be enough to last the next two days. All kinds of amusements were set up on the grounds, and the festivities drew not only black people but also many white people, "including a large number of suspicious characters." However, the celebration, featuring speakers from throughout southwest Missouri apparently went off without a hitch.

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