Received this email (below) because I am a member of the NAACP. I hope the NAACP follows up by publishing the stories they receive.
It’s hard to imagine a contemporary family could have known people who lived back in the time of Lincoln, but the reality is, 150 years wasn’t that long ago. We often think of things like the Civil War as if they disappeared in the eternity of the past, and people like Lincoln as historical ghosts, as if they didn’t physically exist somehow and have little personal connection with the modern world.
What the NAACP is doing is very important: time and history put perspective on things, helping us understand ourselves, others and the ways in which we are all connected. Personal stories matter.
Blessings to all who struggle for and defend freedom and equality.
Last week, as we celebrated the promise of a new year, we also marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Signed on January 1st, 1863, the Proclamation marks an important day in the shared history of all Americans — the day that marked the beginning of the official process to end slavery in the South.
This coming Sunday, when my family and I come together with our loved ones, we will give thanks for all our ancestors did and remember what they went through to bring us to this more equitable, just time. Talk will undoubtedly touch on this anniversary, as it may for you and yours as well.
Author and orator Booker T. Washington recalled the day the Proclamation went into effect in his 1901 autobiography, “Up From Slavery”:
After the reading we were told that we were all free, and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying, but fearing that she would never live to see.
Stories like this one have passed from generation to generation, telling of this day’s profound impact on families all over the United States.
How has your life today been impacted by the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago? Do you and your family have stories of ancestors and relatives who lived through the day? Tell us:
Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing from you.
Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO