20th of May Emancipation in Florida

“The 20th of May: The History and Heritage of Florida’s Emancipation Day” Digital History Project is an online portal documenting nearly 160 years of the history and culture celebrating the 20th of May, Florida’s Emancipation Day.

The 20th of May, Florida’s historic emancipation celebration, has been observed in many Florida communities with the majority of the state’s Black population since 1865. In fact, in St. Augustine and Key West, because of the presence of the U.S. Army during the U.S. Civil War, Black people celebrated emancipation as early as 1863.

While the federal recognition of Texas’s Juneteenth holiday is important, it has had the unintended consequence of overshadowing the historic emancipation celebrations in Florida which have been observed in their respective communities since 1865. This portal provides documentation and interpretation of the 20th of May holiday celebrations, and other emancipation celebrations, in Florida, bringing together scholars, educators, preservationists, and community leaders from across the state to provide documentation and cultural perspectives on the political reality of emancipation and emancipation celebrations.


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Funding for this program was provided through a grant from Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this (publication) (program) (exhibition) (website) do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.