On August 8, people from across Blount County gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa to celebrate the abolition of slavery more than 144 years ago.
“This is a celebration that is done all over the United States each May, June, August, and even February in the African American community that recognizes the abolition of slavery,” said Sharon “Sissy” Ferguson, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. “Celebrations occur on the date the state received the word and/or were occupied by the Northern forces. Tennessee was the 8th of August.” Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln in 1863, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, formally abolishing slavery in the United States.
At the Aug. 8 celebration of those pivotal events, community members gathered to hear a variety of music, including gospel, old school rap from DJ Charlz and new school rap from the Villin Boyz. Families also got to enjoy goods from vendors selling funnel cakes, burgers and grilled chicken, jewelry and accessories, books and more. The children’s hour from 5-6 p.m. provided face painting, crafts and games for kids.
The event is sponsored by H.O.M.E. Inc and the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, located at 209 E. Franklin St. in Alcoa.