On this day 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which essentially freed all slaves. Today, the Birmingham Emancipation Association had a commemorative celebration to remember that historic time. It is the oldest, continually-running celebration in Alabama that has annually recognized the Emancipation Proclamation signing.
During a ceremony at Bethel Baptist Church, community members sang songs of praise. The service has three goals: commemorate the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, recognize local citizens and organizations in Birmingham that have made outstanding contributions for the betterment of society and to encourage people to give to the scholarship fund.
Since 1998, the Birmingham Emancipation Association has awarded over $68,000 to 70 graduating high school seniors so they could attend college. The scholarship is named for the late W.C. Patton, who served as Alabama's voting rights director.
William Greason, President of the Birmingham Emancipation Association, says it is important for younger generations to remember what their ancestors went through for their freedoms today.
"It's important because we have to remember our past to live in the present and future and we want to remind everyone that all of us can make a contribution," said Greason.
The people honored by the Birmingham Emancipation Association this year include Judge Helen Shores Lee, Attorney Doug Jones, Circuit Court Clerk Anne Marie Adams, Attorney David Gespass and the Magic City Bar Association.
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