GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — The pandemic will not stop the country’s oldest celebration of emancipation and the end of slavery, with the 157th annual Gallia County Emancipation Celebration planning a virtual event this Sunday.
The live stream can be found on the Emancipation Facebook page titled, “Emancipation Proclamation Celebration” beginning at 10 a.m., Sept. 20.
The event schedule is as follows:
10 a.m., the morning worship service begins with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by Andrew Gilmore, president of the Emancipation Proclamation Celebration Committee, giving the welcome.
Following that are musical selections with Deacon Glenn Miller giving the devotional, and then remarks from Rev. Gene Armstrong and Minister Marlin Griffin, both of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Bidwell, Ohio.
Proclamations will then be given from Gallia County and the Gallipolis City commissions.
Special remarks will be delivered by Ryan Smith, president of the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College.
Gilmore will then introduce keynote speaker, David N. Harris, president of the Carter Woodson Foundation in Huntington, West Virginia. This is a prerecorded video.
The decision to go virtual was made at the Aug. 5 meeting of the committee after discussions with the Gallia County Health Department and announcements by the CDC and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in regards to guidelines. As previously reported, Gilmore noted a specific concern with attendees traveling in from outside areas.
“A lot of the people who attend the Emancipation Celebration are born and raised around here, but move to other cities,” Gilmore told the Tribune in August. “We decided it would be safer to go virtually.
“We’re proud of the fact that we’ve been celebrating this emancipation continuously since 1863. That’s the reason we didn’t cancel like a lot of the other organizations around, because we want it to go on record that the 157th annual Emancipation Celebration was conducted.”
In the past, the event has featured historical reenactors, as well as activities set up for kids, but Gilmore noted that these things weren’t possible because of the pandemic.
Over the summer, the Gallia County Emancipation Celebration gained national recognition with a piece that appeared in The Washington Post debunking a myth that Juneteenth was the oldest celebration of emancipation and the end of slavery, stating that notoriety belonged to the event held in Gallipolis. With national recognition, and a virtual platform, Gilmore hopes the celebration will draw some outside interest this year.
According to the Emancipation Weekend Committee’s website, the Emancipation Proclamation has been celebrated and observed in Gallia County continuously since 1863.
Some information provided by the Emancipation Celebration Committee. Beth Sergent and Alex Hawley contributed to this article.
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