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African American History Forum

Emancipation Day Celebration

What's Emancipation Day?

In 1833, the British Parliament passed an act banning slavery. It took full effect at midnight of July 31, 1834. On August 1, 1834, slavery was banned throughout the British Empire, including British North America. At the same time, the legislature of Upper Canada (today the province of Ontario) passed a law making it illegal to return escaped slaves to the United States. Canada became a haven for escaped slaves from the United States. Windsor, as the first Canadian place many of the slaves arrived at, has a special place in this history.

Emancipation Day Celebration History

Once the largest outdoor celebration of it's kind in all of North America, boasted colorful parades that made its way down Ouellette Avenue from Riverside Drive to Jackson Park on Sunday at 1 p.m. Throngs of spectators lined the parade route to catch a glimpse of the floats, marching bands, precision drill teams and dignitaries. pageants, family reunion picnics and community wide barbecues.

Floats featuring the beautiful Miss Sepia contestants were always very popular. Those in attendance enjoyed 4 days of fun including the midway, talent shows, sporting events, Sunday sunrise services, gospel choirs, musical [Activist Mary McLeod Bethune, actress Dorothy Dandridge. Dr. & Mrs. Roy Perry host Dorothy Dandridge, Courtesy of the Windsor Star, April 24, 1964.] concerts with top artists such as Diana Ross, The Supremes,Stevie Wonder, Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. George Washington Carver, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Eleanor Roosevelt and many other world renowned dignitaries annually to appear as guest speakers or simply to join the revelry of freedom.

In fact these cross-border celebrations drew the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. George Washington Carver, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Eleanor Roosevelt and many other world renowned dignitaries annually to appear as guest speakers or simply to join the revelry of freedom.

Though the Masons and churches sympathetic to the abolition movement were the first to organize Emancipation Celebrations individuals such as Walter Perry (later known as Mr. Emancipation) and his successor Ted Powell became synonymous with the celebration. This grand jewel in the crown of Windsor/Detroit labored on for over 100 years until it was totally undermined by the 1967 riots in Detroit. That historical and well documented tragedy’s affect upon the celebration is well outlined in Herb Collins book called Turning Points. Though strictly U.S. based the riots inadvertently did as much socio-political damage on this side of the border as it did on the U.S. side.

From all indications, the City of Windsor and surrounding areas is ready again for a celebration of this magnitude. Back in it’s hey day Emancipation Day Celebration had an estimated attendance of over 200 000 people and was considered to be the largest celebration of its kind in North America. Keep in mind that the city had a population of roughly 51 000 residents at that time.

LIST OF EVENTS : (not in order)

Emancipation Banquet
Emancipation Parade
Sunrise Breakfast
Miss Sepia Contest
Traditional African Entertainment
LIVE ENTERTAINEMNT (hip hop and r&b concert) now booking acts see bottom for details.

Friday August 1st, 2008 Activities

Heritage Tours

All day charter bus tours to participating Underground Railroad and historical sites here in Windsor and surrounding area. Starting point will be at North Star Community Center. Discount booklets will also be available to those wishing to travel to these sites via their personal automobiles.

Opening Ceremony

Opening ceremony will take place at the Festival Plaza Main stage.

* Parade from Sandwich First Baptist Church to Festival Plaza led by Town Crier, Mr. Brian Kersey.
* Public Declaration by Town Crier, Mr. Brian Kersey.
* Opening prayer by a local church pastor.
* Introduction of the Council of Elders by the MC.
* Emancipation song written by Lana Talbot.
* Opening remarks by various dignitaries and the guest speaker.
* Followed by short skits, solos, poetry citing and much more…

Emancipation Banquet

Quality food and ambiance that will exceed attendees every expectation coupled with entertainment.

Saturday August 2nd, 2008 Activities

Emancipation Parade

Parade will start at 11:00 noon sharp. Starting point yet to be determined, end point however will be at the riverfront Celebration Plaza.

Planning for Change Conference

Individual and Group Delegations will confer to develop a Strategic Plan to foster further collaboration among service organization and churches.

Venue TBA (Sandwich First Baptist Church)

Celebration Plaza Activities

Miss Sepia Contest, Barbeque, Basketball, Baseball and Cricket Tourneys… Live Blues, Jazz, Reggae, traditional African Entertainment, Fashion Show, Hair Show and Vendors will be ongoing

Sunday August 3rd, 2008 Activities

Sunrise Breakfast

A country styled breakfast will be provide at a reasonable cost to those intending to participate in the Sunrise Church Service. Breakfast will be served at the Riverfront Celebration Plaza. Please see appendix C1 for complete details

Sunrise Breakfast

Local pastor and international affiliates will lead off with prayer followed by a brief praise and worship service. A full Order of Service will follow including a complete sermon and call to worship. This year’s offering will be in support of the restoration of the Historical Sandwich First Baptist Church and other local churches. The service will be conducted in the riverfront celebration plaza.

Sunday’s entire concert listings will feature local and international ministers of music covering traditional Spirituals & contemporary Gospels. Live Entertainment and Vendors will be ongoing.

Closing Ceremony

The closing extravaganza will include the Introduction of the 2008-09 Miss Sepia and the Award winners from all the competitive and cooperative Heritage Freedom Games


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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