Is a land without freedom for all truly free? It is not. While the United States of America formally recognizes July 4, 1776 as Independence Day, it took nearly 90 years for all those who helped make this nation what it is to be seen as free men and women.
December 6, 1865 is a momentous point in American history. It was on this day that three-quarters of our nation’s states ratified an amendment that would free every man, woman, and child in the United States. In doing this, the nation took its first steps toward truly living up to the powerful words of slave-owner Thomas Jefferson, by acting on the declaration that, "all men are created equal; that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." On December 4, 2015, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation calling for the observance of Abolition Day, bringing awareness and honor to a day that had been overlooked for a century and a half.
Even in today's uncertain sociopolitical atmosphere, one thing that we can stand in agreement on is that, while we still have quite a distance ahead of us, we have come far and will continue to go farther. The ratification of the 13th Amendment did not only free the enslaved but also the enslaver, whose soul was captive to his love for money and hunger for power. So, on December 3, 2017 please come help us in honoring the legacy of all of those who, 152 years ago, sacrificed to make this nation even greater than it set out to be by ratifying the 13th Amendment.
What is Abolition Day?
Abolition Day represents the day that the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865. The 13th Amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Why should we celebrate Abolition Day when we already have Juneteenth?
Juneteenth celebrates the day that slaves in Texas learned that they were freed after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It symbolizes the date of June 19, 1865. While Juneteenth has been an important celebration in the African-American community, it does not reflect the actual abolition of slavery in this country. Slavery was abolished in the United States with the passage of the 13th Amendment, not the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Didn’t the Emancipation Proclamation end slavery?
Unfortunately, it did not. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on June 1, 1863, but it only freed slaves in the Confederate States that had seceded from the Union (i.e., were no longer a part of the United States). Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery was still legal in parts of our nation and was acknowledged in our Constitution (for example, in Article 1, Section 2 that counted slaves as 3/5 of a person for representation and taxation purposes).
Why is it important to celebrate Abolition Day?
Abolition Day recognizes December 6, 1865 as one of the most important events in the history of our country, not just in African-American history. Only through an amendment to the United States Constitution was slavery ended in this nation. This is why we celebrate the passage of the 13th Amendment on Abolition Day, December 6.
Shaw University is the first historically black college in the South and one of the oldest in the nation. Having the 152nd anniversary and the celebration of Abolition day brings a special significance to the day.
We will gather in The Thomas J. Boyd Chapel.
December 3rd, 2017 @ 3:30pm
Berean Creative Media