What is Emancipation Day? - as part of the news and politics series by GeoBeats.
For some it is just an extra couple of days to file your taxes, but Emancipation Day has nothing to do with taxes and is all about celebrating liberty. Nine months before the famous Emancipation Proclamation, on April 16th 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act liberating slaves in the District of Columbia. This law freed the thousands enslaved in DC and compensated the 900+ slave owners approximately $300 for each slave released. This being the only example in the US to compensate the slave owners. Made an official public holiday in only the District of Columbia in 2005, government offices are closed and numerous educational and memorial events lead up to the celebration each year.
Similar celebrations are held in the Caribbean countries including Barbados, Anguilla, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago during the first week of August since the British Empire abolished slavery on August 1, 1834.
In Toronto, Canada, the first Monday in August hosts the "Caribana" festival which is the largest Caribbean festival held in North America. This two week celebration creates a buzz throughout the city with the Kings and Queens Festival and "Caribana" parade.
Although not considered an official public holiday, Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Kentucky also recognize an Emancipation Day.