Event marks anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation signing

Published 5:41 pm Monday, December 25, 2017

BY ONISKA BLEVINS | The Selma Times-Journal

An event on New Year’s Day will mark the 155th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, which ordered all slaves in the states to be freed.

The proclamation reads in part: “And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated states, and parts of states, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.”

The Selma-Dallas Emancipation Proclamation Committee has marked this historic moment in history for many years. This year’s commemorative celebration will be on New Year’s Day at 11 a.m. at New Bethel Church at 4033 County Road 31 in Orrville.

Judge Collin Pettaway Jr., president of the Emancipation Proclamation Committee, said the celebration is “so we remember the history of this country.”

“I hope people take away a renewed commitment, and they will be diligent and not forget where we came from and the struggles our forefathers had to endure … not saying that we’re gonna live in that history, but it’s something we cannot forget,” Pettaway said.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Blacks Still at War.” Pettaway said the theme is to remind African Americans of how far they have come and how far they still have to go.

“We are still at war, and that’s the war against racism, poverty, classism and all those things that affected our people from 1865 forward. All those things affected us, and we are trying to remind [people] the struggle is not over,” Pettaway said.

Commemorating the proclamation in a place with such rich history in the civil rights movement as Selma adds, even more, significance to the celebration, Pettaway said.

Pettaway said the committee also recognizes community members that donate to their scholarship fund. The organization rotates scholarships between Concordia Community College, Selma University, and Wallace Community College Selma.