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For Immediate Release: Friday, October 30, 2020

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Sidney Katz, on behalf of the entire Council, presented a joint proclamation today proclaiming Sunday, Nov. 1, as “Emancipation Day” in the County.  Nov. 1 marks the day in 1864 when Maryland issued a new state constitution that called for the freedom of people held in bondage in the state, making Maryland the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to abolish slavery by a vote of the people and not by executive decision. 

“This is an important day in the history of our State that needs to be amplified so that more people are aware of as we continue our journey toward racial equity in Maryland,” said County Executive Elrich.  “While there is still much work ahead of us to correct the wrongs of the past, I am encouraged by the support from our community to seriously address racial injustice.  Emancipation Day is the perfect time for us to renew our commitment to making our County more equitable and inclusive.”   

Maryland started officially recognizing Emancipation Day in 2013, when then-Governor Martin O’Malley signed a measure to celebrate the freeing of slaves in Maryland on Nov. 1. 

"On Nov. 1, 1864, Maryland legally freed all those held in bondage within its boundaries through a new state constitution,” said County Council President Katz.  “Sadly, more than a century and a half later, we still see the long shadow that slavery cast over our nation, the deep divides that it sowed and the injustices that it created. On Maryland Emancipation Day, we reflect on our history and recommit ourselves to dismantling institutional and systemic racism.  We know that much work lies ahead of us, but we stand united in our commitment to creating a more equitable Montgomery County." 

The abolishment of slavery in Maryland came just six months before the end of the Civil War. Maryland’s slavery abolishment also was approved two months before the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by Congress, and a full year before the 13th Amendment was ratified.

The 13th Amendment partially reads: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

In addition to the proclamation, there have been numerous activities and events in Montgomery County designed to educate residents about the history of slavery in Maryland and in the County. For more information on Emancipation Day events, go to

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Media contact: Barry Hudson, 240-300-7348 or [email protected]


Release ID: 20-644
Media Contact: Barry Hudson 240-300-7348