8th of August: Tennessee’s Celebration of Emancipation

From time to time Appalachia Bare will share videos produced by Black in Appalachia. Black in Appalachia is an organization dedicated to preserving and highlighting the stories and contributions of the African-American communities of our region through research, oral histories, document preservation, and exhibition. This is all provided as a community service for Appalachian residents and families who have roots in the region. For more information on their work you can read my interview with Director William Isom II here.

The recent “Juneteenth” festivities celebrated the emancipation of the last slaves in 1865. This weekend, the Fourth of July commemorates the day the British colonies declared their independence, or emancipation, if you will, from the rule of England, and laid the foundation of the United States of America. We at Appalachia Bare thought the time is right to share a short historical documentary of Tennessee’s unique part in the emancipation story and how it is still celebrated today.

Many people may not know that President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to enslaved people in the state of Tennessee. Despite this, then-Military Governor, Andrew Johnson emancipated his own slaves in Greeneville, Tennessee on the 8th of August, 1863. This event set off a century and a half long tradition of freedom celebrations that continues today in East Tennessee.

-Black in Appalachia

I hope you find this as enlightening and enjoyable as I did.


This video was produced by William Isom II, Director of Black in Appalachia for East Tennessee PBS in August of 2017 and appears here with his permission.

1 Comment

  1. I learned of Juneteenth in the last few years, and, of course, I’m familiar with the fourth of the July. An emancipation celebration particular to Tennessee is new news to me. I’ll explore that further.

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