Hill Center Commemorates First Freed Slaves with the 4th Annual Benjamin Drummond Emancipation Day Celebration

Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital will honor America’s first liberated slaves with celebratory and scholarly programs that bring together a diverse group of prominent experts, artists, and public figures April 12-15, 2018.

Named for the Old Naval Hospital’s first patient, a young African American seaman taken prisoner by Confederated ships, Benjamin Drummond Emancipation Day Celebration marks 156 years since President Abraham Lincoln signed The District of Columbia Emancipation Act, which freed D.C.’s 3,000+ slaves, nearly nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation.

“I appreciate the work of Hill Center to illuminate and celebrate Washington, D.C.’s historic role in the abolishment of slavery,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser.  “Each year, we use this historic moment to renew our push for full democracy and statehood for the residents of the District of Columbia. We will not stop until we achieve full statehood.”

The Celebration’s programs include a walking tour of the Bloomingdale neighborhood which played a pivotal role in ending racial covenants on real estate. Distinguished scholars from across the country will present discussions on African American women and their history of sexual violence and trauma; the 14th Amendment and the meaning of citizenship; and a look back at 1968 Washington, DC, and its narrative of turbulence, tragedy and ultimate transformation. The celebration will conclude with a free concert by Grammy-nominated R&B singer-songwriter, Carolyn Malachi at Capitol Hill’s historic Christ Church.


The 14th Amendment: African Americans and the Meaning of Citizenship
Dean Danielle Holley-Walker and Professor Garrett Epps, moderated by Andy Shallal of Busboys and Poets
Thursday, April 12 @ 7 pm
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African American Women: A History of Sexual Violence & Trauma
Drs. Nikki Taylor and Jeanne Theoharis; moderated by Marcia Davis, Washington Post Magazine editor and writer
Friday, April 13 @ 7 pm
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Mapping Segregation Walking Tour – SOLD OUT
Sarah Shoenfeld of Mapping Segregation in Washington, DC
Saturday, April 14 @ 11 am-1 pm
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Tragedy, Turbulence, Transition and Transformation: Remembering 1968 Washington, DC
Drs. Marya McQuirter and G. Derek Musgrove; moderated by Dr. Bernard Demczuk, Ben’s Chili Bowl Official Historian
Saturday, April 14 @ 2:00 pm
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Documentary Film Screening: The Rape of Recy Taylor
Sunday, April 15 @ 3 pm
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Closing Concert: Carolyn Malachi
Sunday, April 15 @ 6 pm
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The Benjamin Drummond Emancipation Day Celebration is sponsored by the Executive Office of the Mayor, American Historical Association, Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities.



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