Today the Foundation for the National Archives announced that the Verizon Foundation will be the lead sponsor of the National Archives 150th celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The National Archives will present a free special display of the original Emancipation Proclamation from December 30, 2012, through January 1, 2013, in the Archives’ East Rotunda Gallery. The East Gallery will remain open to the public late on New Year’s Eve with an 11:30 p.m. Watch Night performance by Washington Revels Heritage Voices and a midnight bell ringing by a Harriet Tubman historical reenactor. The bell ringing will signify 150 years since the first African-Americans were released from slavery in the United States of America.
A’Lelia Bundles, President of the Foundation for the National Archives and granddaughter of the first African American woman small business owner and millionaire Madame C.J. Walker, said, “We are thrilled that the Verizon Foundation has agreed to serve as lead sponsor of this exciting year of 150th Anniversary events celebrating one of the most important documents of American history.”
The Verizon Foundation has presented the National Archives Foundation with a $150,000 grant to support the Emancipation Proclamation 150th Anniversary celebration. There will be family related activities, panel discussions, author lectures, and educational film programs. John Hope Franklin stressed the importance to teaching African-American children about their heritage and to remind them that it has only been 100 plus years since African-American were freed from being human chattel.
“The issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation stands as one of the defining moments during a tumultuous period in our nation’s history. We at Verizon are honored to support the celebration of the 150th anniversary of this historic document,” Rose Stuckey Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation, said.
Walter Hill noted that the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery for all African-Americans when President Abraham Lincoln signed the document on January 1, 1863. African American slaves in South Carolina were still slaves after the signing. It took the Union Army attack on Ft. Sumter to begin the process to free the slaves in South Carolina and other parts of the South in what became known as the Civil War. The Proclamation invited African-American men to join the Union Army and navy to fight for their freedom. John Hope Franklin said that over 200,000 African-Americans volunteered to fight in the Union forces.
Since its creation in 2000, Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live.