"Celebrating Freedom" at the Lincoln Memorial

NEH and Howard University announce performers for September 17 Emancipation Nation

Alfre Woodard headshot
Photo caption

Alfre Woodard

WASHINGTON, (September 6, 2012)

Oscar-nominated actress Alfre Woodard will read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl at the Lincoln Memorial on September 17 as the National Endowment for the Humanities and Howard University sponsor "Celebrating Freedom," a commemoration of the issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

The hour-long program will feature readings, dance, and musical performances marking the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s announcement of his intention to free the slaves in the Confederacy.

Howard University’s Afro Blue vocal jazz ensemble will perform, a university color guard will march, and dramatic readings of historical narratives, essays and poems will mark the momentous event.

The performance will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. at the base of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on Monday, September 17.  The event is free and open to the public.

The Lincoln Memorial performance is the culmination of NEH’s Emancipation Nation day long commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.   It follows a 1:30 p.m. panel discussion by Civil War scholars on the events leading up to the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation from the perspective of President Lincoln, enslaved African Americans, Civil War soldiers, abolitionists, and Northern free blacks. This panel will be live-streamed from Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to “watch parties” of viewers around the country.  To register to host a watch party, or find one near you, visit: http://emancipation.neh.gov/live/host-a-watch-party/

 In conjunction with the Emancipation Nation events, NEH is sponsoring a student contest for young people 18 years of age or older to submit essays or other original works based on documents presented in two NEH-funded digital projects: The Freedmen and Southern Society Project and Visualizing Emancipation. Winners will receive cash prizes and a trip to Washington. For details about the contest, please see: http://emancipation.neh.gov/student-contest/

The Emancipation Nation program coincides with Constitution Day.  In 2004, Congress declared September 17 as Constitution Day, mandating that all federally funded educational institutions study the U.S. Constitution. The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is a key moment in the process that led to the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery. 

For more information about the September 17 events, please see http://emancipation.neh.gov.

Media Contacts:
Paula Wasley: (202) 606-8424 | pwasley@neh.gov