Tuesday, July 8, 2008
New Yorkers celebrated end of slavery on July 5th
While visiting in New York over the 4th of July weekend, I learned that many African Americans there were celebrating the 181th anniversary of the abolition of slavery on July 5th, the day after the American Independence from Great Britain. In fact, New York was 2nd in the country besides South Carolina for holding the largest number of slaves which played a role in the building of New York.
Slavery officially ended in the state of New York on July 4, 1827 which was about 35 years before President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment in 1865, abolishing slavery in the entire U.S.
On July 5, 1827, over 4,000 blacks in New York City marched along Broadway, preceded by an honor guard on horseback and a grand marshal carrying a drawn sword. The parade wound through the downtown streets to the African Zion Church, where the abolitionist leader William Hamilton declared, "This day we stand redeemed from a bitter thralldom."
African Americans in New York chose to celebrate the 5th of July versus the 4th of July for fear of violent threats from whites and because African americans were not actually freed in 1776.
While I was in New York this past weekend, The Lefferts Historic House, the former home to a family that owned 10 slaves was where one of the main events commemorating the freedom of countless slaves was held. The event attracted people of all background and featured music including the bang of drums and the rattle of gourds, and re-enactments.
Again, I learned something new this past weekend because while New Yorkers still celebrate Juneteenth like many other African Americans around the country in rememberance of Emanicipation from slavery, they also commemorate July 5th, since slavery came for New Yorkers on July 4, 1827.