From Emancipation to Freedom and Beyond

This year, 2013, is an anniversary year that we have been anticipating for quite some time here at the Amistad Commission.  The anniversaries of key moments from the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement coincide to represent important steps in our nation’s reckoning with slavery and racism.

January 1, 2013, marked the 150th anniversary of one of our nation’s greatest events: On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, an act that freed thousands of slaves but did not end slavery. However, signing this document marked a turning point that lead to passage of the Thirteenth Amendment that outlawed slavery outright.

The 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation had been commemorated in various ways throughout the state, including a traveling exhibit in the fall of 2012 produced by the New York State Museum, a division of the New York State Education Department. “The First Step to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation,” traveled to eight cities across the state to rave reviews. Stops were made in New York City, Syracuse, Buffalo, Plattsburgh, Rochester, Binghamton, Utica and Albany. For exhibit highlights, go to this link: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/ep/.

Yet, the struggle is not over. Not only are we celebrating freedom but we are also engaged in reflection and action by educating others and ourselves about these important historic chapters long forgotten.

“The Amistad Commission is proud to acknowledge and commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and this anniversary year of key historic moments,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “We should mark Civil Rights moments not only during anniversary years, but also every single day as a reminder of how far we have come and how far we need to go.”  The Amistad Commission is hosted under auspices of the New York Department of State.