Toledoans commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation At the Main Library

February 27, 2013 in News, Top Stories

By Journal Staff

Dwayne Hammond, director of Central Catholic High School’s Gospel Choir, leads the members in several selections that included a dance.

The 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln was celebrated in the McMaster Center of the Main Branch Library on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Entitled, “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality” attracted a large crowd that had nearly every seat in the center filled.

Consisting of spoken word, speeches, a mime, an original play by local playwright, Dr. Imelda Hunt and a performance by Central Catholic High School Gospel Choir, kept the audience entertained throughout the event.

Meg Delany, manager of the Main Branch Library, said the program was a part of their Black History Month celebration.

“The Emancipation Proclamation is such a significant event in the history of our country that we wanted to take the opportunity to commemorate it and make people aware of its significance,” she said. “We want people to take home a greater understanding of the importance of some of the events of our culture.”

A “Watch Night Jubilee,” was the title of Hunt’s play. Hunt said it was an adaptation of speeches and historical content from the era of slavery which showed slaves waiting to hear word about the Proclamation being signed into law.

“I want to convey the historical importance of what African Americans were experiencing at the time,” Hunt said.

Toledo actor Hunter Turner portrayed Frederick Douglass in the play and said that although he studies African American history, acting and reciting the words of Douglass had a powerful impact on him.

“Every time I read the speech, I automatically heard the dignity and the fire from his words,” he said.

Following the program, light refreshments was served in the foyer where people talked about the event.

“I thought it was very unique and informative,” said Willie Hayes. “I think the kids that were present learned a lot from the program. I learned something new. Through re-enactment, I was able to receive greater clarity on the Proclamation.”

“It was an excellent program,” Twania Harbour said. “I really liked the fact that the kids took an active part in the program.”

After exiting the program, 15-year old Diamond Morehead said she was motivated to learn more about Black History.

“What was really interesting about the program was learning how Lincoln was doing a lot behind the scenes to make sure the Proclamation goes into law,” she explained.