Legacies links for January 2, 2023: The Emancipation Proclamation at 160

Happy new year! We hope that you found rest, reflection, and joy over the holiday break. As always, the links shared here do not imply agreement or endorsement by the Council of Independent Colleges.

“Waiting for the Hour” (1863). Sunday marked the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Image source: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

“We are all liberated by this proclamation. Everybody is liberated. The white man is liberated, the black man is liberated, the brave men now fighting the battles of their country against rebels and traitors are now liberated… I congratulate you upon this amazing change—the amazing approximation toward the sacred truth of human liberty.”

Frederick Douglass
February 6, 1863

  • “The Historical Legacy of Watch Night,” National Museum of African American History and Culture: LINK. “‘Watch Night’ or ‘Freedom’s Eve,’ marks when African Americans across the country watched and waited for the news of freedom. Today, Watch Night is an annual New Year’s Eve tradition that includes the memory of slavery and freedom, reflections on faith, and celebration of community and strength.”
  • Donna Brazile, “The 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation is a reminder of how far we’ve come as a country—and the work still to be done,” The Grio (December 27, 2022): LINK. Brazile, a political analyst and sometime strategist for the Democratic Party, notes that “the legacy of slavery and centuries of racism remains with us today…[but] many lawmakers remain in vehement opposition to affirmative action, anti-poverty programs, aid targeted to Black businesses, and to even considering the possibility of reparations to right the wrongs of the past.”
  • Jeffrey Boutwell, “Time for a New Emancipation Proclamation,” Boston Globe (December 27, 2022): LINK. At the 40th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1903, a Black journalist (William M. Trotter) and a White Republican politician (George S. Boutwell) called on Black voters to pursue “a New Emancipation Proclamation based on Black voters looking to their own self-interest and voting strategically to maximize political power.” As the country approaches the crucially important presidential election in 2024, the need for doing so once again has never been greater.
  • “The Origins of Black Families’ Christmas and New Year’s Eve Traditions,” Seattle Rep (December 18, 2022): LINK. A lively conversation with community educator AJ Musewe about history and tradition in this time of annual renewal.
  • Kayla Stewart, “Tracing the Origins of a Black American New Year’s Ritual,” The New York Times (December 24, 2021): LINK. Eating collard greens, Hoppin’ John, or black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve are closely associated with Black Americans—but these foodways can be traced back to West African traditions.
  • Mariah Lee, “Discovering the meaning behind my family’s New Year’s Day traditions,” Andscape (December 30, 2021): LINK. A personal reflection from pro soccer player/freelance writer Lee, who writes that “New Year’s Day has always held meaning—watching my grandmother spend days cleaning chitlins, seeing my grandfather risk his high blood pressure to eat heavily salted North Carolina-style pork, and witnessing every family member participate in our ritual of sharing what we seek to accomplish in the upcoming year. With the addition of historical knowledge, our tradition became even more treasured.”