DC Emancipation Day “Lights of freedom” to Feature Candlelight Tribute to Freed Slaves on Saturday April 16, 2016. Community residents will join with the National Park Service and DC Parks and Recreation to light over 2,000 candle luminaries in honor of thousands of African Americans who were buried in what is now Adams Morgan after they gained their freedom during the Civil War.
Each illuminated candle will be a tribute to four of the people who were buried under Walter Pierce Park and parts of the adjoining National Zoo and Rock Creek Park, which comprise the largest unmarked African American cemetery in the capital. At least 8,428 African American men, women, and children were buried in the Mount Pleasant Plains Cemetery between 1870 and 1890. More than half of the graves are children.
All are invited to join in the program at Walter Pierce Park, located off of Calvert Street, NW at the east end of the Ellington Bridge. Lighting of the candles will begin at 6:00 p.m., with music provided by area church choirs. There will be a period of silence as dusk settles in at 8:00 p.m. The candles will be displayed until 9:00 p.m.
A study of archaeological research about the cemetery has been completed, including information from ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry to help document the most sensitive areas of the site. The report from the archaeologist has allowed us to engage the community and others in the master planning to permanently protect, honor, sustain, and program the cemetery and park. We are now able to tell the stories of those buried there, and to provide a way for future generations to honor them.
For more information or to volunteer to help this event, please contact Washington Parks & People at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (202) GO-2-PARK.