“The first annual Liberation and Freedom Day celebration was held March 3 to commemorate the ending of slavery in Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville.
The celebration began with an interfaith service at the University Chapel. Following the service, participants marched from the chapel to the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center, where the event concluded with a reception.
Reverend Tracy Howe Wispelwey from Westminster Presbyterian Church opened the service with a communal singing of “We Hear Freedom Ringing.”
”We are celebrating the liberation of over 14,000 men, women and children from slavery in 1865,” Wispelwey said.
The emancipation of slaves in Charlottesville and Albemarle County occurred toward the end of the American Civil War when local officials surrendered to Union troops on March 3, 1865.
A committee comprised of local religious leaders, civic officials, University officials and residents of Charlottesville were charged with organizing and planning the event.
At the service, Wispelwey said she hoped for “a restoring of our humanity” in light of the recent anti-Semitic acts around the country and threats Muslim students have faced at the University. She currently serves as the president of United Ministries, an interfaith group that works with University students, faculty and staff. ”
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