PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dozens of people gathered at Temple of Music in Roger Williams Park for the annual Emancipation Day Rally on Saturday.
August 1 marks the day the Abolition of Slavery Act was passed, eventually freeing enslaved Africans across the British colonies, including Canada. It’s celebrated here in the United States because of the vast amount of West Indies natives.
“To me days like Emancipation Day and Juneteenth are the epitome of what it means to be an American. Celebrating the freedom of people that were slaves and then free and is certainly is worthy of a celebration if nothing else is,” NAACP Providence Branch President Jim Vincent said.
Organizers tell Eyewitness News, today’s event is meant to address ongoing systemic racism faced by the black community. Speakers will be sharing black history, along with cultural and musical performances by local artists.
“We wouldn’t have all the problems in institutional racism in this country all the disparities if we were truly free. So the work hasn’t just begin but it continues,” Vincent said.
A voter registration drive was also be held at the event.
“A lot of great energy around and people are excited and ready for change. We really try to get out and register as many people to vote and just make sure everybody exercises their right to vote and uses their voice so their voices are heard,” Chace Baptista said.