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Heritage Programs: Subcommittees: African American

Heritage Programs: Emancipation Day

BY LINDA BORG, Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE -- More than one hundred years ago, members of the black community were urged to "lay aside labor and assemble in nature's garden, with the blue vault of heaven for a covering, and express how we love liberty and hate slavery."

Those words were not, however, a reference to the emancipation of black Americans. Rather, they honored a different emancipation day -- Aug. 1, 1834 -- when 800,000 West Indians were released from slavery by Great Britain.

In Providence, the earliest record of Emancipation Day dates back to Aug. 4, 1849, when, according to the Daily Transcript and Free Soil Advocate, "the proceedings of the day cannot fail to give new impulse to the spirit of anti-slavery among our colored citizens."