Emancipation Day Celebrations in Florida

Emancipation was proclaimed in Tallahassee on May 20, 1865, 11 days after the end of the Civil War and two years after the proclamation was first issued by President Abraham Lincoln. For this reason, Emancipation Day in Florida is traditionally celebrated on May 20th.

Henry White playing guitar at an Emancipation Day celebration (193-)
Henry White playing guitar at an Emancipation Day celebration (1930s)

 

Annual Emancipation Day Parade: Lincolnville, Florida (between 1922 and 1927)
Emancipation Day Parade: Lincolnville, Florida (1920s)

 

Annual Emancipation Day Parade: Lincolnville, Florida (between 1922 and 1927)
Emancipation Day Parade: Lincolnville, Florida (1920s)

 

St. Paul A.M.E Church float: Lincolnville, Florida (between 1922 and 1927)
St. Paul A.M.E Church float: Lincolnville, Florida (1920s)

 

Parade float representing the medical auxiliary society: Lincolnville, Florida
Parade float representing the medical auxiliary society: Lincolnville, Florida (1920s)

 

Standing in front of a car decorated for the parade: Lincolnville, Florida
Standing in front of a car decorated for the parade: Lincolnville, Florida (1920s)

 

St. Benedict Catholic School parade float: Lincolnville, Florida
St. Benedict Catholic School parade float: Lincolnville, Florida (1920s)

 

The Queen and her court: Lincolnville, Florida
The Queen and her court: Lincolnville, Florida (1920s)

 

African American workers and tenants celebrating Emancipation Day at Horseshoe Plantation (193-)
African American workers and tenants celebrating Emancipation Day
at Horseshoe Plantation (1930s)

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12 thoughts on “Emancipation Day Celebrations in Florida

  1. they were lucky unlike those poor Texans I think it was a whole year for them. and its called Juneteenth.

    • Growing up in Archer, Florida, in the forties we celebrated the 20th of May with lots of food and games, such as, planting the maypole, walking the barrel, springboard, baseball, horseback riding, (rodeo) which was invented by enslaved black men “called breaking wild horses.” It was a harsh punishment during slavery forced by slave owners, known today as Rodeo, which has gone big money and is celebrated as a national entertainming sports’ event.

  2. As a child growing up in North West Florida in Gadsden County, May 20th was celebrated. There lot of food, baseball games among teams from through out county. I don’t think many places in Florida celebrate this day any more. Many people talks about celebrating Juneteenth, even though we were in the situation as Texas. African American in Florida were not freed for over two years after Emancipation Procalmation.

  3. I grew up in White Springs,FL. May 20th was always celebrated. We were told of what is was like when slavery ended in Fl by Mrs. Julia and other griots. We sang Negro Spirituals and had all kinds of food. I attened a celebration this year in White Springs and it was great. Hiowever I think that the history needs to be passed down and programs should focus on what is was like then. We shooould never forget our past and if you do forget it, you will repeat it.

    • We have celebrated for a few years now Juneteenth, this year we are providing the educational part you are talking about. I so agree with you, blindly celebrating Black holidays has gotten us nowhere and we are reliving that history that was so painful.

      Thank you for your words of validation.

  4. My family for years have celebrated on May 20th. My father has past on but he started a tradition where hundreds of people would gather and eat in celebrating our freedom. So we are currently keep it on. So come join us in Gadsden County a little smaller country place called Sawdust.

  5. My family for years have celebrated on May 20th. My father has past on but he started a tradition where hundreds of people would gather and eat in celebrating our freedom. So we are currently keep it on. So come join us in Gadsden County a little smaller country place called Sawdust. Maybe 20th Celebration in remembrance of my father SB Gunn.

  6. This was my first time participating in the celebration of freedom. My family has celebrated May 20th for many years. I truly enjoyed myself and this will not be my last. Madison, Florida

  7. I can recall celebrating the 20th of May when I was a young boy, most of the school during that time were all black schools. And the entire community would come together to celebrate and talk about the history of the signing of the emancipation proclamation, and how the news got to the people in the Tallahassee area two years after its being sighned. We would eat, play games, plat the May pole, which we always seemed to messed up. Eat roasted peanuts, referred to them as parched peanuts, sing christian hymnals, and give God praise for for our freedom as a black people. . I encourage others to continue to share the history and to give God Praise For the right to be free.

  8. I can remember when I was a small child, and growing up in Monticello, Jefferson County, Florida, I remember my Dad taking us to a church or somewhere to celebrate the 20th of May. Each year on the 20th of May, there was a big gathering for all black people. Eventually, the celebrating stopped because most black people had jobs to go to, and the 20th of May was not recognized as a legal holiday. After a while, there was no more celebrating on the 20th of May. Maybe some celebrated, but most did not. Most blacks had jobs to go to; and children having to attend school. Praise God for the Emancipation Proclamation, it was a big step for the black people, but, we still had many more steps to take for our freedom.

  9. My mother shared how this was a grand celebration in Yulee(Nassau County), FL. Students, teachers, and parents would march from the old school down SR 200/A1A to one of the prominent family ‘s estate to celebrate with food and games.

    We need to embrace this historical moment and must never forget our past.
    This communal spirit our families shared is worth rekindling.

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