On Friday, June 19, 2015, Dr. Edna Greene Medford, professor of history at Howard University, will present “When Freedom Came: Emancipation and the Question of Timing” addressing the issue of how we identify the arrival of African American freedom.  As Dr. Medford explains:

Every schoolboy and girl knows that on January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation declaring that all enslaved people in the states (or parts thereof) still in rebellion "are and henceforward shall be free." What happened after that is contested ground. We know that enslaved people experienced emancipation at myriad times and in myriad ways. Some were freed immediately; others were not freed until they exercised agency and fled the plantations; the vast majority awaited the arrival of federal military personnel. Even within certain states that had been visited by Union forces, knowledge of the proclamation did not reach all enslaved inhabitants swiftly or in any uniform way. How, then, do we determine the proper date to celebrate African-American freedom? My talk will consider the case for January 1, the date of the Emancipation Proclamation; June 19, or Juneteenth; and December 6, the date the requisite number of states ratified the Thirteenth Amendment.

Dr. Medford teaches courses on African American history, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and nineteenth-century America at Howard University. She is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on African Americans in the Civil War. Dr. Medford is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Lincoln Forum and a recipient of a 2009 bicentennial edition of the Order of Lincoln from the State of Illinois for her study of the Lincoln and the Civil War era.

Click for more information. Join us on Friday, June 19, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the Main Library Theater!