At Wednesday night’s city commission meeting, Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry read proclamations declaring May 20 as Emancipation Day in the city.
At the meeting, Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP President Cynthia Slater also read a proclamation about the importance of the date.
The state, some other municipalities and organizations across the state did the same.
Emancipation Day commemorates May 20, 1865, when slaves in Florida found out they were free following the Civil War.
“It is important to know and understand the history of the emancipation of slaves in Florida. We must recognize the part of Florida history that was never taught to us or found in history books,” Slater said.
Two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, slaves in Florida were told that they were free. It was a month before slaves in Texas were told that they were free.
Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 with news that the Civil War was over and slavery in the United States was abolished.
“While Juneteenth is celebrated throughout the country as Emancipation Day, this date cannot be minimized because if all of our ancestors were not free, none of them were,” Slater noted.
Most people know about Juneteenth but not Emancipation Day.
“My late mother was from Texas. She told us about Juneteenth when we were young, how they celebrated the day with picnics and other festivities,’’ Slater related.
“We didn’t understand what she was talking about because we didn’t think that Juneteenth was even a word.”
Volusia County, the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance, Midtown Community Development Corporation and the Volusia County African American Leadership Council also have written proclamations for Emancipation Day.