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ALPLM to Celebrate Juneteenth by Displaying Emancipation Proclamation

June 15 @ 9:00 am - July 3 @ 5:00 pm

Emancipation Proclamation

SPRINGFIELD – A copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln himself will go on display this month at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as America celebrates two holidays dedicated to freedom: Juneteenth and Independence Day.

The proclamation will be displayed at the ALPLM’s library building, where there is no charge for admission, on Saturday, June 15, and then on weekdays from June 17 through July 3 – including June 19 itself, which is a state holiday. The address is 112 N. Sixth Street in downtown Springfield.

The presidential library and museum will also host two special discussions about Juneteenth and civil liberties, debut a new theatrical presentation and offer free admission to the museum on June 19.

The theatrical event, “The Nature of Freedom: A Literary Commemoration of Juneteenth,” features the words of some of America’s greatest activists for freedom and equality, from Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King Jr. to Maya Angelou. The 35-minute piece, directed by the ALPLM’s Reggie Guyton, is a readers theater presentation. That means actors will not use costumes, dramatic staging or special lighting and instead will depend on their voices and the power of the script to engage the audience.

“The Nature of Freedom” will be presented three times: at 11 a.m. on June 15 and 19 and at 6:30 p.m. on June 19. The evening performance will be accompanied by a presentation of “Small Beginnings,” a short play about Robert Smalls and his daring plan to rescue family and friends from slavery during the Civil War. For details, visit https://presidentlincoln.illinois.gov/events.

Other programming includes two events offered in conjunction with Springfield’s Juneteenth Celebration and the Center for Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois-Springfield:

  • “Freeish – A Discussion of Black Citizenship in the Land of Lincoln,” a brown bag panel discussion about the history of Black Americans in Illinois and their fight for full citizenship. The free event begins at noon on June 14 in the ALPLM library building.
  • “An Evening with Annette Gordon-Reed: The Long Road to Juneteenth,” a presentation by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of “The Hemingses of Monticello.” Her latest book, “On Juneteenth,” is a powerful work of history that weaves together America’s past with personal memoir. This free event takes place June 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the museum building.

ALPLM staff also will have an activity tent set up all day at the 30th Annual Springfield Juneteenth Celebration in Comer Cox Park on Saturday, June 15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Children can enjoy a variety of crafts and the chance to design and make their own buttons, and we’ll also be giving away free Lincoln swag and a chance to win a museum membership.

“Few documents in all of American history carry the weight of the Emancipation Proclamation. We are proud to share it with the public and celebrate its connection to such a joyous holiday,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, freeing anyone enslaved in states trying to secede from the Union. But the proclamation could not be enforced until federal troops captured Southern territory. That meant many people remained in chains until the end of the Civil War.

Among them were the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, who achieved freedom with the arrival of federal troops on June 19, 1865. The anniversary of that “Juneteenth” became an annual celebration that gradually spread across the country and came to symbolize the end of slavery, although that was not totally abolished until the 13th Amendment was ratified six months later.

The ALPLM’s copy of the proclamation is one of about two dozen remaining. It is signed by both Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward.

The presidential library and museum offers an online tool letting people around the world explore the Emancipation Proclamation, its meaning and its impact on history. Just click on key words in the document and up pop boxes full of helpful information. The site includes educational resources for teachers and parents, a photo gallery and links to other sources of information about the address. The site www.PresidentLincoln.Illinois.gov/EmancipationProclamation.

The mission of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is to inspire civic engagement through the diverse lens of Illinois history and sharing with the world the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. We pursue this mission through a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship built on the bedrock of the ALPLM’s unparalleled collection of historical materials – roughly 13 million items from all eras of Illinois history.

For more information, visit www.PresidentLincoln.illinois.gov. You can follow the ALPLM on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


June 15 @ 9:00 am
July 3 @ 5:00 pm
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Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
212 N 6th St
Springfield, IL 62701 United States
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