DC Emancipation Day

April 16, 1862 marks the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. Over 3,000 enslaved persons were freed 8 months before the Emancipation Proclamation liberated slaves in the South. The District also has the distinction of being the only part of the United States to have compensated slave owners for freeing enslaved persons they held. 

April 16th remains a special day for the District and all residents. On the first DC Emancipation Day anniversary after the end of the Civil War, the community organized a large parade. The District of Columbia Emancipation Day Parade became an annual event, continuing into the twenty first century.

11 am: Parade Down Pennsylvania Avenue

5 pm: Concert at Freedom Plaza

8:30 pm: Fireworks

9:15 pm: Selma Screening

Learn more at emancipationdc.com