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Americans Mark Centennial of Emancipation Proclamation

Sept. 22, 1962 - Americans gathered today at the foot of the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington to mark the centennial of his Emancipation Proclamation. “The immortal document that the Great Emancipator read to his advisers 100 years ago today closed one era of American history and opened another,” said Adlai E. Stevenson, U.S. chief delegate to the U.N. Tribute was also paid through music: the full, rich voice of Mahalia Jackson (pictured), the gospel singer, and the strains of the red-coated Marine Corps Band. Miss Jackson, granddaughter of a Negro slave, was the undisputed star of a show that included a recorded message from President Kennedy and a brief speech by Governor Rockefeller of New York. “This day has a very special meaning for me,” Miss Jackson said. And she proved it as she led the audience in singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a stirring, unscheduled climax of the program. President Kennedy, in his recorded message, said the centennial must be regarded not as an end but as a beginning. “It can be said, I believe, that Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves, but that, in this century since, our Negro citizens have emancipated themselves.”


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